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The musical sounds of Islam, rarely heard in this part of the world, will be featured at Colby College. Music Artist in Residence Dhruv Sangari, a well-known figure in the genre, will present Sounding the Divine: A Voice of Mystical Islam on Saturday, March 7, at 7:30 p.m. in Lorimer Chapel, and he will be part of a symposium on Islamic music on April 18, also at Colby. Admission is free.

Vocalist Sangari performs Sufi music-the mystical sounds of Islam-using poetry and improvisation. “It’s the only real singing in an Islamic tradition,” said Colby Music Department Chair Steven Nuss, who helped bring Sangari to Colby from New Delhi, India, to teach and perform. “It’s a facet of Islam that we don’t hear a lot about.”

Sufi music may be sung in Hindi, Panjabi, Urdu, Persian, or other languages, and much of it surrounds love poems. “It’s a very florid, melodic style, something between operatic and birdlike,” said Nuss.

Sangari’s form of Sufi music, which comes from ancient temples of northern India and Pakistan, is primarily represented by Qawwali, a form of Arabic vocal music from the seventh and eighth centuries that eventually blended with pre-existing local Indian forms and evolved into a its own musical genre. Sangari, 27, has also recorded pop and rock fusion, blending sacred, secular and World music traditions.

The March 7 concert will include accompanied vocal performances written by Sufi poet saints from the 13th and 18th centuries. Sangari will give a brief talk prior to the performance, explaining the repertoire and the personalities behind the poets. He will be joined by an accompanist playing the tabla — a traditional Indian drum.

On Saturday, April 18, Colby will present a symposium titled Shatter Heaven’s Roof: The History, Poetry and Sounds of Mystical Islam. Colby Professor of Religion Nikky-Guninder Singh and Professors of Music Steven Nuss and Todd Borgerding will be among the Colby faculty lecturers. The daylong event in the Diamond Building will be followed by a concert in Lorimer Chapel. Admission is free.

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