Zarsanga, the queen of Pashto folklore was among 15 laureates who received the 2022 Aga Khan Music Awards during a gala concert at the Royal Opera House Muscat’s House of Musical Arts.
Zarsanga has been honored with the prestigious award for her career-long devotion to the orally transmitted traditional Pahsto music. Besides Zarsanga, another Pakistani singer Sain Zahoor has also earned special mention in the award.
His Highness Sayyid Bilarab bin Haitham Al Said and Prince Amyn Aga Khan presented the laureates with their awards. The awards presentation marked the culmination of a spirited two-day celebration in which laureates performed live or were presented in short films. A special Award for Lifetime Achievement was presented to acclaimed tabla player Ustad Zakir Hussain during the Music Awards’ opening night concert on 29 October.
This evening’s programme featured performances by Peni Candra Rini, an Indonesian composer, improviser, vocalist and educator; Yasamin Shahhosseini, an Iranian oud player who is reimagining the place of the oud in Iranian music; the Tehran-based Golshan Ensemble, which performs Iranian classical music; and Soumik Datta, a sarod player from the United Kingdom who fuses his training in Hindustani classical music with pop, rock, electronica and film soundtracks to raise awareness about urgent social issues, including climate change, refugees and mental health.
Laureates of the 2022 Music Awards were selected by a Master Jury from a field of close to 400 nominees from 42 countries. They share $500,000 prize money and will have opportunities for professional development. These opportunities include commissions for the creation of new works, contracts for recordings and artist management, support for pilot education initiatives, and technical or curatorial consultancies for music archiving, preservation and dissemination projects.
In her concluding remarks, Fairouz Nishanova, Director of the Aga Khan Music Awards, expressed gratitude on behalf of the Music Awards and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for the invitation from the Sultanate of Oman to hold the Awards celebration in Muscat, and for the collaboration of Oman’s Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports; Royal Opera House Muscat and its House of Musical Arts; and the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra, which performed in the programme of 29 October. Quoting remarks delivered by Prince Amyn Aga Khan at the previous evening’s performance by Awards laureates in the House of Musical Arts, she added, “We couldn’t have hoped for a clearer demonstration of the power of music to unite us despite our many apparent differences, and to affect our emotions and our dreams.”
The performances of laureates and the presentation of awards took place before a distinguished audience that filled the Royal Opera House Muscat’s House of Musical Arts. It included Omani dignitaries and officials, members of the diplomatic corps, musicians and academicians, international guests of the Music Awards, including the Awards Master Jury and Steering Committee, and representatives of many AKDN institutions.