Alam al Khayal is deeply involved in encouraging the preservation and flourishing of one of the subcontinent’s greatest treasures: classical music. The program is led by eminent musician and multi-instrumentalist Ustad Hanif Khan, who brought his decades-long experience with performance and teaching to the foundation to form the Al-Khayal Music Society. Over the past six years, the Al-Khayal Music Society has become well-known in Lahore and throughout the country as a platform which has been promoting and introducing talent in the Pakistani classical music community through its regular live performances, both online and offline, featuring some of the most well-respected names in contemporary classical music such as Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan, Ustad Hamid Ali Khan, and more. Members of the classical music community from all different levels have become involved with the Al Khayal Music Society: from passionate audience members, to freshly learning students, to renowned masters who come to watch and perform themselves. Today the Society is continuing to flourish, conducting regular online sessions and providing a unique platform for classical music in Pakistan.
Of all the sectors of society which the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted, the performing arts are one of the most hard hit. In these difficult times, when gatherings are dangerous and live in-person performances can’t be conducted, new ways must be found to ensure the livelihoods of musicians. When the pandemic hit, Al Khayal decided to temporarily shutter their in-person events and focus completely on online performances, with the benefits of earlier experience with online sessions and the strong audience base that had already been formed on sites like Facebook and Youtube. As the organizers of Al Khayal are themselves musicians, they knew very well how much the community had been impacted by the closure of other venues and lack of events. Therefore, they increased the frequency of the sessions from once a month to once a week, not only to retain their audience base but also to ensure that musicians were kept in work – increased sessions also means more frequent pay for the performers. This pandemic, far from destroying Al-Khayal Music Society’s network, has rather led to a re-investing in the community and strong establishment of an online presence for classical music, creating pathways that will remain open long after the pandemic is over.