Zubin Mehta All Set to Perform in J&K

Zubin Mehta All Set to Perform in J&K

The stage is set for internationally-renowned conductor Zubin Mehta's maiden performance in Kashmir tomorrow as authorities have beefed up the security around the venue following threats by little-known militant outfits.

Mehta arrived here this evening, along with his wife, for conducting the Munich-based Bavarian State Orchestra at Ehsaas-e-Kashmir (Feel of Kashmir), organised here by German Embassy in New Delhi.

The 80-strong contingent of the Orchestra arrived a few hours ahead of their conductor, who will be playing a composition of Kashmiri musician Abhay Rustum Sopori, besides compositions of some famous 19th century European musicians.

Mehta is scheduled to play the composition of Ludwig van Beethoven, the 18th century composer considered as crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music.

He will also play compositions of Franz Joseph Haydn, the Austrian composer who is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet", and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the 19th Century Russian composer whose works included symphonies, concertos, operas, ballets, and chamber music.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah visited the venue of the concert today to review the arrangements.

Security has been tightened around Shalimar Garden, the 18th century Mughal garden on the banks of Dal Lake, in view of threats issued by Al Nasireen, Farzandan-e-Millat and Shuhda Brigad, a senior police official said.

Assisted by other security forces, police have conducted area domination and sanitisation exercises of the surrounding areas of the venue to thwart any attempt by militants to disrupt the concert, the official said.

"We are not taking any chances and viewed the threats very seriously. Adequate security arrangements have been put in place to ensure that the event passes off smoothly," the official said on the condition of anonymity.

There has been stiff opposition from separatist groups and civil society in Kashmir to the concert with Hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani seeking intervention of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to stop the show.

"...We hope you would immediately intervene to stop this concert as it is a very unfortunate development in relation to the future of peace in this region," Geelani said in a two-page letter addressed to Merkel.

He said, "when culture is used to whitewash human rights abuses, dilute Kashmir's disputed status and project a false image of a wounded Kashmir to the world, it pains us that the great German people are being made complicit by India in such a blatant distortion of the truth."

Civil society activists are holding a parallel concert – Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir (reality of Kashmir) – on Saturday to project the alleged human rights violation in Kashmir.

The concert is open to all artists and public and will be held at Municipal Park near Poloview here, but so far the authorities have not granted permission to the organisers for holding the event.

Shalimar Garden, built by Jehangir and expanded by his son Shah Jahan later, used to resonate with music during the Mughal period. Historians say musical nights were conducted in the garden till late 1960s.

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