Rondeau from “Abdelazer Suite” by Purcell was the opening piece performed by newly created Osiris String Orchestra, in its first performance at Cairo's Gusor Cultural Centre at All Saints Cathedral on 17 March.
The ensemble consisting of amateur musicians, trained, conducted and joined by the Awtar Quartet, was also joined by Amr Seif, a cellist from the Cairo Symphony Orchestra.
The evening featured compositions played by the Osiris in addition to pieces by the Awtar Quartet alone. The quartet, established in 2012, consists of four Egyptian musicians: Yasser Ghoneim on first violin, Khaled Saleh on second violin, Essam Abdel Hamid on viola, and Mohamed Abdel Fattah on cello.
The brainchild of Khaled Saleh, the Osiris String Orchestra was formed in cooperation and with the support of Osiris for Art Production and Training, a centre founded and managed by Omar Moataz Bellah.
Intended to serve as a platform for amateur musicians, the orchestra trained for over three months before taking the stage Friday, in front of a full audience.
Osiris' performance also included a fragment from Winter from The Four Seasons concerti by Vivaldi, Canon by Pachelbel, Vocalize by Rachmaninoff, arrangement for strings of Symphony no.9 by Beethoven, and Silent Night by Gruber. It concluded with Games of Thrones by Ramin Djawadi.
Awtar Quartet played Spring and Autumn from The Four Seasons concerti by Vivaldi, Notre-Dame de Paris by Cocciante , Palladio by Jenkins, Tango by Michael Mclean and Libertango by Piazzolla among others. The quartet's arrangement for strings of Ya Zahratan Fi Khayaly by Farid el Atrash and Khali Balak Min A’alak by Omar Khairat was particularily moving to the audience.
The 10 amateur string players and stars of the evening were also generously applauded by listeners after every piece.
A creative partnership between Awtar Quartet and Bellah, Osiris String Orchestra is the first ensemble to focus on amateur musicians, allowing them to develop their skills and giving them opportunities to perform.
“The orchestra is an important project for the Osiris centre," Bellah said during an opening speech at the concert.
Bellah expressed how wonderful it had been to have "young people who used to play their instruments individually now playing together. They learned how to listen to each other and create something together. This has been the great accomplishment that reflects our vision at Osiris.”
The project benefited the musicians by forcing them to work on communication and mutual understanding to get to the final artistic output, he added.
Osiris for Art Production and Training was established in 2015 with a vision to spread artistic works in Cairo through theatre and music.
Awtar's Saleh also took the stage to thank the musicians for their dedication and effort, speaking especially "to those students for whome the thought of playing in an orchestra was beyond their imagination."
Saleh said that Awtar learned a great deal in the process of working with amateur musicians.
“I have developed through seeing them [the young musicians] advance and develop each day. We became a family and built friendships through our four-hour practices and all the days of hard work."
The concert concluded with certificates of honour awarded by Osiris to the amateur musicians.
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