Ustad Noor Bakhsh

Free admission | Festival pass

He is a living legend within the folk music community of Balochistan, a region stretching across state borders into Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. Ustad Noor Bakhsh is master of the instrument benju. And with the help of a solar panel and a car battery he runs a small amplifier, thus rejuvenating the tone of this zither. The joyous melodies Bakhsh teases out of his instrument might remind one of either a sitar or a high life guitar.

While his music is deeply rooted in the traditions of the region, like every great auteur Ustad Noor Bakhsh also soaks up influences from brand new directions, whether they be South Asian raga, Arabic ghazal or Bollywood soundtracks. In his original compositions he even turns to birdsong for inspiration.

It is not until very recently that Bakhsh has reached a wider audience even in Western countries, due in large part to the release of his debut Jingul. The album was recorded in one take, out of doors by the sunset, and invites the listener on a journey through the Balochistani soundscape; its shepherd’s songs and devotional qawwali. A subtle and spellbinding experience.