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Sachal Ensemble set for music and film collaboration with SPAC / The Daily Gazette

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In October, the film "Song of Lahore" and the groundbreaking musical group it documents, Sachal Ensemble, will come to the Capital Region in a collaboration between Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Proctors and Universal Preservation Hall. "Song of Lahore" will be screened at Proctors at 3, 5 and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, and at Bowtie Criterion Cinemas 11 & BTX, Saratoga Springs, on Sunday, Oct. 29. Sachal Ensemble will perform at Proctors - Schenectady at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28,  and the Spa Little Theatre, Saratoga Spa State Park, at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 30.

In 2014, when SPAC President and CEO Elizabeth Sobol held the same position at Universal Music Classics, watching "Song of Lahore," at a colleague's insistence, had a profound impact on her, she said. The film, by two-time Academy Award-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken, tells the story of Sachal Ensemble - traditional musicians trying to survive under the oppression and brutality of modern-day Pakistan. "We were losing our instruments, losing our musicians, losing our culture - something had to be done about it," Sachal producer Izzat Majeed said. By the early 2000s, Majeed had convened a devoted group of surviving Lahore musicians to rehearse and record privately within his Sachal Studios - to revive their tradition, to keep it alive. "Lahore" illustrates how their expansive music-making - bridging pop and jazz with traditional sounds - not only brought inspiration to their lives, but sustained them in their struggles.