"Kashmir is beautiful, I am happy to be here," said world-renowned music conductor Zubin Mehta on reaching the venue of his concert, Shalimar Bagh, here on Friday evening.
Mehta, who had earlier said that he was in the Valley to spread the message of peace when he directs the Bavarian State Orchestra on Saturday, refused to answer any political questions.
Asked about the opposition to the show, Mehta said his music would answer all questions. "Let the music play," he said. Mehta's 90-minute concert has been facing opposition from separatists and even threats from lesser known militant organisations.
The maestro, who is staying in a five-star hotel near the venue, reached the Mughal Garden soon after landing in Srinagar in the afternoon.
"There are certain portions in the Kashmiri ensemble that need to be finalised and will been done once I meet Mr Mehta," said Abhay Sopori, the 34-year-old santoor player, whose group of Kashmiri instrumentalists would be playing a Sufi folk with the members of the orchestra as an opening piece of the concert.
Sopori's group rehearsed with instrumentalists from Mehta's orchestra, while Mehta was present at the venue. "He seemed so much in love with Kashmir and was explaining the history of Mughals and Shalimar Bagh to the members of his orchestra," Sopori added.
The 100-member Bavarian State Orchestra, one of the biggest and oldest orchestras in the world, reached the Valley on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Bollywood actor Gul Panag has said that she will be hosting the concert and dispelled all rumours about her withdrawing from the show.
"I'm definitely going. Kashmir is getting marginalised. Events such as these help to draw attention to what is essential -- humanity, understanding and peace," the actor's PR firm quoted her as saying in a statement. "Music transcends disputes, goes beyond political and ideological boundaries, and encourages hope and goodwill," said Panag, adding this concert will get "Kashmir into the limelight for something positive."
Union ministers, ambassadors of European countries, Pakistan high commissioner Salman Bashir, industrialists Mukesh and Anil Ambani, actors Amitabh Bachchan and Shabana Azmi and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar are among those invited to the concert.
The event has been organised mainly by German ambassador to India Michael Steiner in collaboration with the central and Jammu and Kashmir governments.