Qawwali singers bring 700-year-old mystical music to UNT

Qawwali singers performing in front of microphones

Qawwali began more than 700 years ago as a musical tradition to deliver inspirational messages to devotees inside a shrine – a place where Sufi Muslims with mystical beliefs would seek the truth of divine love and knowledge. It is rarely heard outside of those sacred walls. Now the University of North Texas College of Music is bringing direct descendants of some of the original Qawwali singers to the Recital Hall in the Music Building, 415 S. Ave. C, at 8 p.m. Nov. 2 (Thursday) to perform their spiritual craft.

“The art of these sacred songs of love is captivating – it strikes deep in the heart,” said Vivek Virani, assistant professor of ethnomusicology and music theory. “This performance is a unique opportunity for Denton to experience this type of Islam.”

Ghayoor Moiz Mustafa Qawwal and Brothers from Karachi, Pakistan, began training with their grandfather as children and perform the spiritual music of South Asian Sufism in Urdu, Punjabi, Persian and Arabic.

“Qawwali blends Sufi ritual music with Indian classical and folk music and the result is absolutely electric,” said Virani. “It can induce mystical trance-like states, but it can also be enjoyed just as a form of music.”

Ally Adnan, a patron of the arts in Texas and Pakistan, is bringing the Qawwali troop to North Texas and will provide a brief introduction explaining the background of the performers prior to the show.

“Art is the best way to have a deep and meaningful conversation with a different culture, and we sincerely appreciate Adnan’s commitment to bringing artists of this caliber – with generations of training in poetry and performance – to us,” Virani said.