Students at Toll Gate got a treat last Wednesday morning when Caravanserai, a Pakistani band of musicians, stopped by the Robert J. Shapiro Auditorium. Caravanserai performed traditional “Sufi pop” for the students, who were all members of art classes in the school. Leading the band was Pakistani music star Arif Lojar, whose music has been featured in major motion pictures from Bollywood.
The band will be touring to New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Montana, but Rhode Island was their first stop. They will appear at various schools throughout the state while in Rhode Island, making their debut school performance at Toll Gate.
The tour was organized by Arts Midwest, based out of Minneapolis, but was brought to Rhode Island through FirstWorks Providence.
Yesterday’s concert opened with a performance by Pakistan native, Arooj Aftab, who studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and now resides in New York.
“I’ll be singing a more contemporary, mystical version of a traditional song about the loss of love,” she said.
After her performance, Lojar took over, getting the crowd clapping with rousing Punjabi folk music. The band, comprised of seven other members, included drums, a mandolin, and several traditional Punjabi folk instruments. One man played the harmonium, an accordion-like instrument encased in a solid wooden box. Lojar and another band mate played chimta, tong-like percussion instruments.
The band will make appearances at other schools in Providence, Central Falls and Pawtucket, and will give a public performance on the 17th at the RISD Auditorium in Providence.
More information about the band and tickets to their public concert can be found at www.first-works.org.
(Warwick Beacon photos by Kim Kalunian)