The 28th edition of the Arab Music Festival opened on 1 November with an artistic ambiance filling the Cairo Opera House grounds.
Attended by the Minister of Culture Ines Abdel Dayem; Chairman of the Cairo Opera House Magdy Saber, numerous officials, artists and audience, the celebrations began at the opera grounds with a performance by the Talents Development Centre’s children choir led by Mohamed Abdel-Sattar.
The audience was then invited to the Arabic calligraphy exhibition by Hamdy Zayed at the Cairo Opera where the music of Mohamed Mounir was ricocheting across the halls. Later in the evening Mounir gave a concert at the opera’s Main Hall.
Dubbed “The King" by his fans, Mounir is among the festival’s 12 honorees, others being singers Reham Abdel-Hakim and Mai Farouk, Bahraini musician Wahid Khan, Egyptian musicians Amr Ismail, Adel Iskandar, Moheb Fouad Mehany, Hisham El Araby, poet Farouk Gouida, Iraqi poet and writer Karim Odeh, researcher Salwa El-Shawan and Arabic calligraphy artist Hamdy Zayed.
During the opening ceremony at the opera’s Main Hall, Minister of Culture Abdel-Dayem said this year’s festival coincides with the 150th anniversary of the founding of the first opera house in Egypt and the Arab world in 1869. The Khedival Opera House was burned down in 1971 before the new opera house opened its doors in 1988.
Abdel-Dayem stressed that the Arab Music Festival was an important event that shed light on Egypt and the Arab world's musical and cultural values, and that it was a platform for renowned artists and great talents who continue to supply Arabic music with legacies to remember.
The minister of culture paid tribute to late founder of the festival, renowned opera singer Ratiba El-Hefny. Between 1988 and 1990, El-Hefny also assumed the position of the opera’s chairperson, overlooking its opening and start-up of activities. Under El-Hefny’s chairmanship, the Cairo Opera House saw the birth of new companies under its wings: the National Arab Music Ensemble and the Cairo Opera House Children’s Choir.
The festival continues until 12 November featuring concerts by 92 artists from seven Arab countries (Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Syria, and Oman) performing at the Cairo Opera House as well as numerous venues operating under the opera: El-Gomhoreya Theatre, Arab Music Institute, Alexandria Opera House, and Damanhour Opera House.
Among 81 known singers to take part in the festival are (order loosely based on their appearance in the festival’s schedule): Mohamed Mounir (Egypt), Rehab Motawa (Egypt), Saad Ramadan (Lebanon), Medhat Saleh (Egypt), Mai Farouk (Egypt), Marwan Khoury (Lebanon), Hani Shaker (Egypt), Angham (Egypt), Riham Abdel-Hakim (Egypt), Marwa Naji (Egypt), Wael Jassar (Lebanon), Hammam Ibrahim (Iraq), Faya Younan (Syria), Carmen Soliman (Egypt) , Mohamed El-Sharnoby (Egypt), Asala (Syria), Hanan Mady (Egypt), and Waad Bahri (Syria).
In addition, the festival will feature 11 soloists: pianist Amr Selim (Egypt), guitarist Wahid Mamdouh (Jordan), violinist Jihad Akl (Lebanon), qanoun player Furat Qaddouri (Iraq), oud player Mamdouh El-Jabali (Egypt), cellist Imad Ashour, oud player Majed Sorour (Egypt), pianist Omar Khairat (Egypt), violinist Hassan Sharara (Egypt), oud player Afaf Shoukry (Egypt), and lute player Walid Salama (Egypt).
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