Srinagar: Zubin Mehta's highly-anticipated peace concert was held in Srinagar's Shalimar Bagh amid heavy security on Saturday evening. Called Ehsaas-e-Kashmir, the event, a first of its kind in Kashmir, was organised by the German ambassador to India, Michael Steiner.
Soulful strains of some of the most popular and best-known western classical music compositions reverberated in the majestic backdrop of Zabarwan Hills when the famous conductor performed before a select audience on the banks of the famous Dal Lake.
"I have waited for this moment for a long time. There are those we have hurt inadvertently. I promise next time we shall do this with everyone in a stadium where everyone can come, so it won't be a select few. When the music starts, a positive wave goes from this stage everywhere," 77-year-old Mr Mehta said before his performance.
In the 400-year-old Mughal garden with its magnificent chinars, some as old as 300 years and more, Mr Mehta and his Bavarian State Orchestra played its full cast of works of Ludwig Van Beethoven, Franz Joseph Haydn and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
The concert began with the India-born maestro leading the orchestra along with Abhay Sopori's troupe with traditional Kashmiri instruments.
The concert hit a controversial note with Kashmiri separatists calling it an attempt to digress from the human rights violations in the state. The separatists held a total shutdown of Srinagar in protest.
Reaching out to the separatists a day before his concert, Mr Mehta had said, "I didn't choose Kashmir, Kashmir chose me. Music is the message of peace, and music only brings peace."
A counter concert, called Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir to highlight, what its organisers say, the turmoil of the people over the last two decades, was also held, 10 km away from the Zubin Mehta concert.