Everyday errand leads to meeting with music great

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It was a windy, cold January afternoon, and after battling Steinway Street traffic I finally found a parking spot. I had to remind myself that this challenge is always worth the effort when I am visiting my friend Zafar from Humza Studio to have my old 8 mm tapes transferred over to DVDs.

The fact of the matter is that I have so many of these precious memories captured on celluloid that I prefer to bring a few at a time to Zafar, despite his excellent prices.

But on this day things were a little different. Instead of one of the regular faces greeting me when I entered this family-owned and -operated business, a strange but somehow familiar face met mine.

I instantly knew I had never met this elderly Pakistani gentleman before, but at the same time I knew the face. Then it hit me: That warm, smiling face belonged to none other than Moshin Raza. I cannot tell you how often I have viewed his compositions on YouTube and also read many of his published writings.

For those of you not familiar with this Pakistani music icon, I will give you a quick biography. In 1971, he began his career doing musical compositions. He received his formal education from Government College in Lahore, India.

Thanks to practice, hard work, rigorous training and education in the domain of making music compositions from Khwaja Khurshid Anwar, Ustad Nazar-e-Hussain and Master Sadiq, he immediately made a name for himself in the presence of stalwarts, combining the styles of these three great genres into one, perfect in craftsmanship and aesthetics.

Raza also made his mark as a highly regarded music director both at PTV and Radio Pakistan. He has by now composed for and conducted more than 250 programs for PTV, especially stage shows organized on occasions such as Eid, national days and award ceremonies.

Of particular note was his work on the Millennium Show for Madam Nurjehan. In addition to the numerous songs he has recorded for Broadcasting House, Radio-Pakistan and Lahore, he has more than 3,000 musical compositions for film, TV and radio to his credit.

If I were to cite all the awards Raza has received over his career, we would surely run out of ink to print this piece. Suffice to say that based on the single fact that he is a two-time recipient of the Presidential Award of Performance — in 2004 and 2009 and presented by none other than the government of Pakistan itself — Raza is a composition genius of legendary status.

But as a fan you always wonder if meeting someone of that stature will turn out to be disappointing if their personality falls short of their talent. Well, I can tell you the man who spreads the message of peace and love by composing exceptional Arifana Kalam/Sufi and religious music is just as genuine and amiable in person. We had a short chat, but it was obvious this was a special person.

All that and I dropped off my tapes into good hands to be converted — a great afternoon indeed.

Joseph Cicchelli

School Director

IMTI Trade School

Long Island City

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