Cairo's El Genaina for Arts and Culture launched the Hayy Ramadan Festival on Sunday 4 June, with performances by Egyptian instrumental band Dokkan and prominent Libyan musician Nasser El-Mizdawi.
Theatre manager May Mostafa gave an opening speech on the history of the festival, which previously focused on female artists, and its recent introduction of more varied content. This year’s focus is on African music, with artists from Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.
Fusing melodies, time periods and genres, Dokkan opened the show with their original song “El-Mahgar” (The Quarry) -- an upbeat and uplifting tune.
The Cairo-based instrumental band was founded in 2015, with a lineup including oudist Tarek El-Azhary, guitarist Omar Magdy, percussionist Naeyr Osama and bassist Mohammed El-Mallawany.
The musicians’ intriguing sounds, alternating between oud and guitar solos, oriental and blues rhythms, were received with a thunder of applause from the audience. After their enchanting performance, the band made way for Libyan music icon Nasser El-Mizdawi.
El-Mizdawi rose to popularity in the 1970s, with his first album Oghniyat Al Ghurba. He has since greatly influenced the Arab music scene, composing tunes for popular singers such as Amr Diab and Hamid El-Shaary.
The Libyan musician performed alongside young artist Sarah, who served as backup vocalist and as lead on two songs. El-Mizdawi opened his show with the song Rage (Returning), a nostalgic ode to Egypt, its landscape, people and artists, who Mizdawi says taught him a great deal about music and creating songs that truly move the audience.
Throughout the concert, the singer was faced with several mix-ups and technical difficulties which were obviously challenging. Despite these issues the artist lived up to his name, impressing the audience with complex guitar tricks, youthful energy and enthusiasm.
El-Mizdawi performed classics such as Shantet Safar (Suitcase) and Habibi Ya Nour Eini (My Love, Light of my Eyes) to which much of the crowd knew the lyrics and sang along.
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