Ustad Zalai Pakta (b. 1978) is an award-winning master ney (Persian flute) player, composer and educator. He developed his musical expertise under Ustad Naseer Aziz and worked for 16 years as a musician for Afghanistan’s National Radio and Television performing with the country’s top musicians and singers. He has performed across the globe including in France, Italy, Turkey, India and the UK, with a performance at the Tricycle Theatre in London (now Kiln Theatre) in 2007. From 2013 until the Taliban take over in 2021, Ustad Zalai was a master teacher at the Aga Khan Music School in Kabul, at the invitation of its director Mirwaiss Sidiqi. Ustad Zalai continues to live in Afghanistan, although he is no longer able to make music in his home country.
Heart That Burns (2022)
Instrumentation: flute, oboe, clarinet in Bb, bassoon, horn in F, trumpet in Bb, trombone, percussion, rubab, dutar,, harmonium, tabla and strings
Premiere: 5 July 2022, Spitalfields Music Festival, London. Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra w/Saphawat Simab, rubab, Shahbaz Hussain, tabla, Yusuf Mahmoud, harmonium, Mehboob Nadeem, sitar and William Rees Hoffman, dutar. Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey, conductor
Commissioned for The Orchestral Music of Afghanistan: Looking Forward project
About Heart That Burns
Heart That Burns is an emotional composition of tragedy. I composed this piece when I was a student; when I had many dreams but could not achieve them yet. Time passes, hopes are diminished, disappointments accrue. All the fantasies and dreams that I had for a new tomorrow burn one by one, and my heart also burns. From this feeling in my heart, I composed this melody. Initially, I wrote this melody on my computer using the Sibelius musical notation program, but unfortunately my computer was torn to pieces by the Taliban, the enemies of science, culture and civilization, and I could not do anything but watch… I recorded the melody again using my mobile phone and sent it to Milad Yousufi who has made this beautiful arrangement for orchestra.
– Zalai Pakta, June 2022