Riyaaz Qawwali is an ensemble that represents the unique diversity and plurality of South Asia. The ensemble’s 8 musicians, who are settled in the United States, hail from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh and also represent multiple religious and spiritual backgrounds. Trained in eastern and western classical music, the members have been professionally performing qawwali for the past eight years. With conservative growth and heightened attention to quality, Riyaaz Qawwali has performed across the continental U.S., as well as internationally in Panama.
Riyaaz Qawwali’s mission is to expose qawwali to new audiences, while still paying homage to traditional qawwali that has been in existence for 700+ years. The ensemble wants to expand the reach of the genre to new stages and people of other faiths and traditions. The founding members of Riyaaz Qawwali chose the qawwali genre of music because it houses unique musical elements in its repertoire that are not found in any other form of South Asian music. Riyaaz Qawwali combines this with poetry from famous South Asian poets of multiple linguistic and religious backgrounds to create a universal message of oneness (Riyaaz Qawwali incorporates works from poetic giants like Mirza Ghalib, Amir Khusrow, Bulleh Shah, Mir Taqi Mir, Sant Kabir and Guru Nanak, and in doing so, hopes to expose these poets’ works to new audiences and younger generations). Riyaaz Qawwali also uses numerous languages to represent the linguistic and cultural diversity that exists in South Asia. These languages include Urdu, Punjabi, Persian, Gujarati, and Hindi.