December 26, 2018


An ardent supporter of the arts and one of Pakistan’s most successful cultural ambassadors, Ally Adnan will soon be back in his native land to deliver his signature talks on culture, history, Sufism, and art. The well- known art collector, cultural commentator, journalist, public speaker, and writer is always welcome guest in Pakistan because his talks are a veritable feast of learning for Pakistanis looking to expand their horizons in the world of culture, history and art.

During his two-week visit, Adnan will conduct a total of twelve (12) seminars in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, on a wide variety of topics that include ghazalqawwalijewelry,kathak, classical music, and truck art. The hectic trip may not be everyone’s idea of a vacation but for Dallas-based Adnan, who does not accept any payment for his talks, it is the best way to find relaxation and happiness. “I love sharing knowledge of our culture, history and art with people in Pakistan,” he says with unbridled enthusiasm. “There is no greater pleasure than contributing to someone else’s learning and pleasure, even in a small way. The talks in Pakistan are always the highlight of my trips to Pakistan.”

Adnan’s seminars on qawwali, one at Olomopolo Mediain Lahore and the other at the Aga Khan Universityin Karachi, will feature demonstrations and performances by the young and promising Ghayoor-Moiz-Mustafa Qawwal. In the seminars, Adnan will trace the origin of qawwali back to Vedic chants and discusses its evolution, through zikr and samaa, to the form established by Hazrat Amir Khusrao in the thirteenth century. He will talk about the association of qawwali with Islam, the various forms of qawwali both in terms of poetry and music, and the basics of classical music. The talks will also cover the significance, structure and decorum of the mehfil-e-samaa, explains the phenomenon of haal, and explores the reasons behind the enduring popularity of qawwali. They will conclude with a comprehensive definition of qawwali, which Adnan posits is bigger than a genre of music or poetry. A shorter, introductory talk about qawwaliwill be held as part of the SVAD Talksat the Beaconhouse National Universityin Lahore.

The seminars on ghazalmusic, one at Olomopolo Mediain Lahore and the other at T2Fin Karachi, will discuss the history and evolution of Urdu poetry, tracing its roots to pre-Islamic Arabia.  They will cover the basics of music and discuss the ten (10) major styles of singing ghazal– the Parsi Theater, raag-basedthumrigeetmujra,qawwalibatarannum mushaira,filmRadio Pakistan, and PTVstyles – and include biographical information of major Indian and Pakistani ghazalsingers

Ally will talk about kathakdance at events organized by the Asian Study Groupin Islamabad, the Institute for Art and Culturein Lahore, and the Base Rock Caféin Karachi. The multi-media presentation will cover the theory of dance as described in theNatya Shastra, the eight principal forms of Indian classical dance, the history and evolution of kathak, the concepts of layaand taal, the influence of Islam on classical dance, and the styles, aspects and elements of kathak.

The Children’s Literature Festival has organized two talks on Pakistani Truck Art, one at the National History Museumin Lahore and the other at the British Councilin Karachi. These talks are geared towards younger audiences and will cover the origin and evolution of truck art, the process of decorating trucks, various regional styles, poetry and iconography used in trucks, and popularity of the art form. It will also include an exercise for participants.  

Ally Adnan who also designs one-of-a-kind statement jewelry pieces inspired by Etruscan, Victorian, Hellenic and Greek jewelry will be exhibiting his work at Olomopolo Mediain Lahore and at T2Fin Karachi. The exhibitions will be preceded multi-media talks on the world history of jewelry.

A true renaissance man, Adnan is an expert in areas of classical music, dance, art, Sufism and qawwali. His writings on classical music form a valuable treatise on the theory, culture and practice of music in India and Pakistan. He speaks on the radio, television, schools and research symposia, all over the world, on a regular basis. Adnan is known for his interactive workshops which he has conducted at a large number of prestigious institutions and schools, including the Asia Society Hong Kong, New York University, the University of London, the University of Texas at Dallas, and the National College of Arts, Lahore. Ally writes for a large number of international publications and is a member of the International Federation of Film Critics(FIPRESCI). He sits on the board of a number of cultural institutions and organizations and heads the After Hours Groupwhich is dedicated to promoting South Asian art in the United States.

Noor Akbar Chishti is a graduate of IBA and a lover of art, culture and history. He is a freelance contributor to Pakistan Today and can be reached at [email protected]