Two weeks of extraordinary programs exploring Pakistani life, culture, religion, music and art

The Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire is bringing some extraordinary people to our region this month. You can begin your education in Pakistani life, culture, religion, music and art Tuesday night, October 4, at the Conway Library. Educator, designer, artist, urban advocate and author Samina Quraeshi will be giving a free illustrated talk at 7 PM entitled "Exploring Sacred Spaces: Journeys with the Sufis of the Indus Valley." You can read more about this talk below the break.

Finish your two weeks of exposure with the rare opportunity to hear nine Pakistani musicians play a range of traditional music, from mystical singing (above) to tabla drumming (below), on Saturday, October 22 at 7:30 PM at Lloyd Auditorium, Kennett High School, North Conway. If you've never heard the tabla, that alone is reason to come, and the beauty of the singing will give you shivers.!

In between are more opportunities on both the humanities and musical end of the spectrum (a world music jam night!). Click the links to find out more, or read down through the press release copied below.

Hope to see you all at the concert!


Exploring Sacred Spaces: Journeys with the Sufis of the Indus Valley Talk in Conway Tuesday, October 4 One of a Series of Programs on Pakistani Life, Culture, Religion, Music and Art

All those interested in world culture and religion are invited to "Exploring Sacred Spaces: Journeys with the Sufis of the Indus Valley," a free illustrated talk by educator, designer, artist, urban advocate and author Samina Quraeshi on Tuesday, October 4 at 7 p.m. at the Conway Public Library.

In this presentation, based on her award-winning book Sacred Spaces: A Journey with the Sufis of the Indus, Quraeshi discusses life in Pakistan today and reveals the critical relationship between art, spirituality and community. Quraeshi examines the role of sacred spaces in mystical Sufi traditions and how they act as profound expressions of both faith and culture.

Having explored contemporary engagement with the sacred spaces of Sufi rites in South Asia, especially the Indus Valley region, Quraeshi offers a unique account of the diversity of Islam as it is practiced, experienced and lived, while bringing a message of internal plurality as a counter to monolithic stereotypes.

"Shrines and mosques in Pakistan have been frequently targeted by Islamic militant groups, whose interpretations of Islam leave no room for Sufi mystical practices," Quraeshi notes. "But in fact, in each part of the world where Islam has spread and taken root, the religion has adapted to its context in geographic, cultural and theological terms. Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam, runs through South Asia as a deep spiritual vein inflected with philosophies and traditions from other Muslim lands and cultures as well as pre-Islamic rites and practices. Sufi mysticism is one of many nuances that complicate the all-too-common view that Islam is monolithic, unable or unwilling to recognize the internal plurality of devotion and interpretation among its faithful."

Principal of S/Q Design Associates in Boston and Miami, Quraeshi also serves as Gardner Fellow/Visiting Artist at the Peabody Museum, Harvard University. From 1994 to 1997 she was Director of the Design Arts Program for the National Endowment for the Arts, and from 1999 to 2005 was Henry R. Luce Professor in Family and Community at the University of Miami, School of Architecture and School of Medicine. She has served as an affiliate for the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT, taught at Harvard and at the Rhode Island School of Design, and been Guest Critic at the Yale School of Art. She has spoken at conferences and given lectures around the country.

Quraeshi, who lives near Boston, has spent her life between two worlds, Pakistan and the United States, and devotes herself to cultivating the vital relationship between culture and community She was awarded the Tamgha e Imtiaz for distinguished service for the arts from the Government of Pakistan. She has exhibited her artwork internationally and is the author of Legacy of the Indus: A Discovery of Pakistan, Lahore: The City Within, and Legends of the Indus.

Her presentation is part of a series of humanities talks by distinguished scholars offered around northern New Hampshire during the first two weeks of October. The talks are presented by the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire and local partners, with funding from the New Hampshire Humanities Council. They include:

Pakistani Music: Its Context, Meaning and Sound, Beena Raza (Lahore, Pakistan) Heritage Commons, Samuel Read Hall Hall, Plymouth State University, 7 p.m., Thursday, October 6

Visual Arts of the Sufis, Jonathan M. Bloom (Boston College &Virginia Commonwealth University) Lincoln Public Library, 7 p.m., Tuesday October 11

Pakistan: An Overview, Jennifer Fluri (Dartmouth College) Weeks Memorial Library, Lancaster, 7 p.m., Wednesday Oct. 12

In addition, Beena Raza will present a teacher workshop, Using History &Culture to Promote Global Understanding, as part of North Country Education Services' Professional Development Day at White Mountains Regional High School, Whitefield, Friday, October 7

The humanities talks and teacher workshop are designed to set the stage for a week-long residency with two groups of renowned Pakistani musicians who will be in the region October 16-22 as part of Caravanserai: A place where cultures meet. The Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire is one of only five organizations chosen from across the country to host Caravanserai, which is coordinated nationally by Arts Midwest and funded in part by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, with the aim of building cross-cultural bridges of understanding through the arts.

For additional information about both the humanities talks and the Caravanserai tour, visit, call 323-7302 or email

Caravanserai Brings Pakistani Musicians to Northern NH One of Only 5 Stops on National Tour

Nine renowned traditional Pakistani musicians travel to northern New Hampshire in mid-October for a week-long residency coordinated by the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire.

The Arts Alliance is one of five arts organizations nationwide selected to participate in the pilot year of "Caravanserai: A place where cultures meet," a program designed to establish greater understanding between American and Muslim societies by showcasing the diversity of Islamic art and culture. Caravanserai introduces American audiences to some of the most exciting and dynamic artists from the Muslim world; Pakistani artists are the focus of the first year.

Featured in the October 16-22 residency are Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin &Brothers, renowned torch-bearers of more than 700 years of a mystical singing tradition, on their first U.S. tour, and the Tari Khan Ensemble, which will delight audiences with their diverse styles and contemporary rhythms of percussion from across the globe. The ensembles will share their artistic expression during a week of school programs, a music jam, a culminating concert and other community programs. . Caravanserai is managed nationally by Arts Midwest on behalf of the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, with support from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. The October residency will be followed in the winter and spring by additional residencies in film and contemporary music.

The name Caravanserai evokes the roadside inns in the Far East where caravan travelers would gather after a long day's journey through the desert heat. At night, the caravanserais were safe havens, cheerful resting spots for the sharing of news, companionship and entertainment. Caravanserai: A place where cultures meet creates a modern caravan for local communities to experience and enjoy artists from the Muslim world.

Qawal Najmuddin Saifudin &Brothers offer audiences vibrant and transcending artistic experiences. To listen to the ensemble is to visit their home among the shrines of Karachi, Pakistan to be enchanted by rhythms that blend music and poetry, and to witness deep investigations of human spirituality. The sons of Ustad Qawal Bahauddin Khansahab, the legendary maestro of the Khusrou tradition of qawwali singing, Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin &Brothers are direct descendants of the first qawwali choirs dating back to the 13th century. Learn more about the ensemble and listen to a clip of them singing at

Drumming master Ustad Tari Khan and his ensemble are acclaimed for their unique sounds — simultaneously pure in pitch, tone, and essence, and played with love and emotion. Tari Khan, a U.S.-based Pakistani percussionist born in Lahore, Pakistan will share his unique mastery of the tabla drums in the Caravanserai music residency. The tabla drums are a set of hand drums that have different sizes and sounds. Tabla drum masters train for a lifetime so that the rapid rhythmic tapping of their fingers can produce a transcendent sound known as absolute "sur" (pitch) and "ras" (essence). Tari Khan's acclaimed performances all over the world have earned him the title of "Tabla Prince of India and Pakistan." He will be joined by Pakistani performers who specialize in a different set of drums known as dholis that are strapped over the shoulder and played standing and twirling with a set of sticks. Together, Ustad Tari Khan's ensemble will guide the audience on a musical journey of the different percussive styles and rhythms of Sufi musical culture and explore the diversity of drumming traditions from countries across the globe. To watch Tari Khan demonstrate the tabla click on

Public programs during the residency include:

Welcoming Reception &Vegetarian Potluck 6 p.m. Sunday, October 16 Starr King Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 101 Fairgrounds Rd., Plymouth

World Music Jam - bring your instrument! 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 18 Starr King Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 101 Fairgrounds Rd, Plymouth

Free Informal Presentation - open to the public noon Wednesday, October 19 White Mountains Community College, 2020 Riverside Dr., Berlin

Public Concert - don't miss it! 7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 22 Loynd Auditorium, Kennett High School, 409 Eagles Way, North Conway Tickets ($15 adults, $10 seniors, $5 students, $30 families) on sale in advance, online at, and at the door

Organizations or businesses that would like to host a program or provide hospitality for the visiting artists or anyone who would like to learn more about the residency, can contact the Arts Alliance at or (603) 323-7302. Individual volunteers will also be needed. Find additional information about the Caravanserai program, including links to the artists, at

Other organizations participating in the Caravanserai tour include: Artswego SUNY Oswego, Oswego, NY; FirstWorks, Providence, RI; Monmouth University, West Long Branch, NJ; and The Myrna Loy Center, Helena, MT.