It was a wonderful example of cross-cultural understanding.
Alliance Francaise de Vancouver sponsored Pandit Vithal Rao and his
student Kiran Ahluwalia.
The show was introduced in english, then in french to the mostly
South-Asian audience. The only time I heard South Asian language,
was during the singing.
Kiran Ahluwalia was the host for the evening. While a wonderful
singer in her own right of traditional ghazal and Punjabi folk songs,
as well as her own intercultural world music, Kiran was honoured to be
able to present her teacher Pandit Vithal Rao. She explained that
she would be telling stories about her teacher growing up and
performing in India at the palace of a Prince. She also explained
about the history of ghazals. It was a great experience for
neophytes to Indian music such as myself.
On stage was Pandit Vithal Rao with his harmonium. Next to him
sat Kiran. Bookending them were a tabla player and a sitar
player. I attended with my bagpiper friend Joe McDonald, and we
sat next to his friends Sunny and Meethu who also play tabla and sitar
in their own concerts as brother and sister, as well as the musical
fusion trio Vishwa with celtic violinist Max Ngai. Sunny also
plays with Joe as Brave Waves.
During intermission, I bumped into several people I knew, and several strangers who commented on the kilt I was wearing.
“I just love Canada,” said a woman who was admiring my kilt – the
Fraser Hunting tartan. She was francophone, and said she really
loved the mulitcultural flavour of Vancouver, and that she could go to
an concert of Indian music, and meet a Chinese man wearing a Scottish
“Oh… but I am 5th Generation Canadian,” I said.