In 2009, CiH traveled to Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi for outreach performances in schools run by The Citizens Foundation (TCF), performances of Pakistani music with Pakistani musicians, informal private concerts and cultural exchange events, meetings with public figures such as Ahmed Rashid and the Bhutto family, and media engagements. We collaborated with some of the brightest lights of the Pakistani musical scene, such as Zeb and Haniya, Arieb Azhar, Aaishah Akram, and Natasha Ejaz. Our version of the Pakistani National Anthem became a nationwide hit and even was used as a popular ringtone.
In 2010, William Harvey traveled to Islamabad and Karachi. In Islamabad, William collaborated with rapper Adil Omar and sarangi player Taimur Khan to perform in a benefit concert at Kuch Khaas for the sponsorship program at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM). This sponsorship program identifies orphans and street-working kids in Kabul. The children’s families are paid a small amount of money per month in order to make up for the income the children lose by going to school instead of working on the streets.
In 2012, CiH traveled to Pakistan twice. During an initial trip in February by the CiH Founder, he performed with musicians from the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA), gave a workshop at the Children’s Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA), and performed at an Edhi home and at Dar ul Sukun alongside FEW the Band, an extraordinary group of former NAPA students. In August, a string quartet performed a major concert with NAPA musicians, taught at CAPA, performed with FEW the Band at schools run by TCF, performed with Usman Riaz and Co-ven at the MAD school, and performed with Zoe Viccaji at The Second Floor.
In 2015, as part of our 10th anniversary celebration, The Passacaglia Project, we worked with professional musicians (selected by our partner, IPAC) to create a passacaglia that highlighted the cultural traditions of Pakistan’s four provinces—Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan. Those musicians were: Salman Adil, bansuri, Punjab; Muhammad Ajmal, tabla, Punjab; Mushtaq Ahmad, harmonium, Punjab; Muhammad, dhol, Punjab; Qurban Niazi, vocalist, Punjab; Ustad Zainullah, setar, KPK; Akhtar Chanal, vocalist, Balochistan; and Akbar Khamisu, alghoza, Sindh. The Pakistan portion of the project was underwritten by the US Embassy to Pakistan. In recognition of their donations in support of the Passacaglia Project generally, the Pakistani passacaglia is dedicated to Dianne McKeever and Shreyas Gupta.
Also in Pakistan, we held a benefit concert (check out the highlights video here) in Pakistan for Aware Girls that raised enough funds to cover a one-day workshop to help inform women of their rights. The group of Pakistani and American musicians also played concerts at Pehli Kiran School and Mashal Model School. The concert at Kuch Khaas attracted media coverage including this article in Dawn and this special report on BBC Urdu. To promote the concert, William also appeared on a popular radio show hosted by Rahim Khan on FM 101.
In terms of far-reaching impact, a big success of the project was a video shot on January 27 by Junaid Malik of William playing the Pakistani National Anthem on the site where Punjab governor Salman Taseer was assassinated. The video bore the caption: “Dedicated to the victims of extremism in Pakistan. William Harvey plays the violin at the site of Salman Taseer assassination.”
The video quickly went viral, rapidly receiving 6,621 views, 151 likes, and 163 shares. The reaction was refreshingly positive. Umair Malik wrote: “Hey William bro im soo happy that people like u r present in the world. I felt so nice when u played the pak national anthen at the site of salman taseer’s assassination. My prayers are always with u and stay happy.” Alexander Sufyan wrote “i never heard our own anthem being played so beautifully on violin..Also liked the show you did at Fm 101 channel of Radio Pakistan. God bless you sir.”
Thank you to Junaid Malik for his extensive logistical assistance and advice in Pakistan and to our main contact from Kuch Khaas, Syed A. M. Zaidi, as well as Umair Jaffar and Farhan Bogra of IPAC.