World Music Series commences with Qawwali music show

by Sarah Tanori, Senior Staff Writer

Musically enriching as it is culturally important, the San Diego State School of Music and Dance’s World Music Series provides an opportunity for the community to sample music on a global scale.

This multicultural presentation here at SDSU brings artists from all parts of the world in an effort to familiarize audiences with non-Western traditions.

The school first introduced these concerts in the 1970s as a series of musical performances featuring various genres, such as classical and jazz. Now the series is run both semesters of the academic year by music professor Kevin Delgado through his course, World Music in Contemporary Life. Delgado has organized this event since 2002.

Students of Delgado’s course are exposed to a valuable dimension in the classroom. They are required to buy a subscription to 10 concerts during the semester. Instead of attending the three-hour class in its entirety, students go for only two, and the last hour is dedicated to attending these shows.

“It’s one thing for me to give them readings, to give them recordings, to do a lecture, to show them video — but then we get a third hour,” Delgado said. “They come over here and then they see an actual concert. I fully expect that they probably won’t remember my name, probably won’t remember all the things I make them learn for the midterms, but when you see a concert and you’re moved by it, your world is changed. Your ideas about music, about culture, about people are changed.”

The World Music Series started its run this semester Monday, Sept. 14, with a performance of traditional Qawwali-Sufi music in Smith Recital Hall.

Generally, this style of music includes a lead singer, two singers in the background, the harmonium and the tabla. Religious devoutness is communicated through verses, created by Sufi poets in Qawaali. The music serves the purpose of honoring the god Allah, Sufi saints and the prophet Muhammad in its pieces.

Delgado had the rare chance to book Fanna-Fi-Allah, the only band in the Western hemisphere that performs this type of music from Pakistan. An all-American band, Fanna-Fi-Allah continues the devotional traditions of Qawwali-Sufi music. Members of the group have been committed to their art for more than 20 years, honing their skills in Pakistan among well respected teachers in the craft.

“I think that music contains so much richness because it generally is from a culture,” said Aminah Chishti Qawwal, tabla player of Fanna-Fi-Allah. “Any music that we’re studying is from someone that left it before us. Music is just such a profound way to actually have a taste of what these people believe really as a people our culture we see. In general, I think music contains pieces of a tradition that lasted throughout the test of time.”

Delgado works to make sure the whole world is represented at these concerts. Asian music, Middle Eastern music, European music and music from the Americas are among the musical styles that will be represented at the upcoming shows.