(Zafar Iqbal, President, GOPIO, Washington-Metro DC?)



Hamri attariya pe aao sanvariya, dekha dekhi balam hoee jaae, Dr. Radhika Chopra started the program by singing the famous Dadra in Bhairvi style paying tribute   to ghazal and thumri queen, Beguma Akhtar on her 100th birth anniversary.


Music lovers from Metropolitan Washington came in large numbers to listen to mesmerizing performance by famous Indian ghazal singer Dr. Radhika Chopra at a Shaam-e-Ghazal program organized by the Aligarh Alumni Association (AAA), Washington DC on May 30, 2014 in Rockville, MD.  A large number of dignitaries and officials representing various Pakistani and Indian American Community organizations in Metropolitan Washington area such as the University of Karachi Alumni Association (UKAA), Hyderabad Association of Greater Washington Area, the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), and the Smithsonian Institutions were in attendance in addition to the AAA members.


Welcoming the artists and guests, the AAA president Dr. FazlurRahman Khan said that the Association’s mission has been to bring people of South Asia together and develop a sense of community by organizing quality educational, cultural and literary programs. “This program is a series of events planned to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Association,” he added.  He also apprised the audience about the hallmark scholarship program of the Association that provides financial support to deserving students. He thanked all volunteers, especially Samina Ahmad for their effort to make this program a success.


Dr. Chopra and accompanying artists Humayun Khan on Harmonium, Haroon Alam Khan on Tabla were introduced by Ms. Manjula Kumar of the Office of the Education and Public Service, Smithsonian Institution, Washington. In her remarks, Kumar traced artistic lineage of Radhika to legendary ghazal queen, Padma Bhushan Beguma Akhtar.  Radhika learned the art of ghazal singing in classical style from Shanti Hiranand, the chief disciple of Begum Akhtar. Manjula also paid tribute to the Association for its contribution in enriching the literary and cultural life of this city.


Radhika Chopra, with a golden voice, showed surprising level of stamina and endurance during her three-hour long performance and she showed no signs of fatigue or exhaustion or even slowing down. She had specially chosen some new compositions for this performance. The ones that stand out were composition by Ameer Khusrau, two ghazals of Faiz, and a classical ghazal of Qadeer Lackhnawi, originally sung by Begum Akhtar. Radhika took the audience through memory of yesteryears by singing Thumri, Dadra, or songs sung by the golden voices of past including Surraiya, Geeta Dutt, Noor Jahan, Jagjit Kaur, Mubarak Begum, Kundanlal Sehgal, Master Madan, and of course Begum Akhtar. She displayed mastery over the audience, keeping them engaged and involved not only by the magic of her singing, but also by her witty remarks and funny comments, displaying an unpretentious sense of humor. She described how much admiration she had for Noor Jahan while growing up in Jammu. In a very chaste Urdu, she traced transformation of Akhtari Bai Faizabadi to Begum Akhtar–her real idol in classical style of ghazal singing. It is not very often that one comes across a voice with soul and emotion with meticulous selection and flawless rendition of the poetic words. She was at ease, whether singing classical poetry of Ghalib, Seemab, and Momin, or of modern poets– Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Sahir Ludhiianvi.


The program ended with concluding remarks by Dr. Moazzam Siddiqui, who also thanked Dr. Chopra and accompanying artists and the audience for their continued support. Masood Farshori, Secretary of the Association was the Master of Ceremony; he skillfully managed the time.

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