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Egypt's arts and culture: The best of September 2014

Ahram Online highlights the artistic achievements, important cultural events and new initiatives that took place in Egypt in September 2014

Ahram Online, Tuesday 30 Sep 2014
The Best of September
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Egyptian digital artist Ahmed Emad Eldin designs cover for Pink Floyd album

Pink Floyd's newest album – their first in 20 years – is set for release on 10 November. The album cover for The Endless River was designed by 18-year-old Egyptian artist Ahmed Emad Eldin. Billboards for the iconic band's new release have appeared all over London, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin and Paris, following the band's announcement of the release.

Pink Floyd have always paid close attention to their album art, with covers of The Wall, Dark Side of the Moon and Animals becoming must-have posters for nearly any music lover. Following the death of Storm Thorgerson – the graphic artist behind many of Pink Floyd's classic albums – the Independent reported that his partner Aubrey Powell contacted Emad Eldin after seeing his work online.

Pink Floyd Endless River
Advertising for the new Pink Floyd album "The Endless River" is installed on a four sided billboard on the South Bank in London (Photo: Reuters)

Youssef Chahine Retrospective at Zawya Cinema

Zawya – Cairo's art house cinema – hosted a retrospective week for Youssef Chahine, one of Egypt's most influential filmmakers. Zawya screened six of Chahine's most iconic films on consecutive nights, which were followed by talks by Chahine's family members, film critics, fellow directors and stars of the films. The event drew a full-house every night.

The 1958 production, Bab Al-Hadid ("Cairo Station") which is considered one of Chahine's most famous films, kicked off the week. For many Cairenes, this was the first time for them to see a classic black and white film on the big screen. In Cairo Station, Chahine stars as a disabled homeless man selling newspapers in the train station who is trapped in a love triangle with Hanouma (Hind Rustom), who sells sodas in the station, and Abu Sri’ (Farid Shawky) who is trying to start a movement with the station’s workers against their tyrannical boss.

The week also featured: Al Ard (“The Land”) 1969, Al Asfour (“The Sparrow”) 1972, Eskendereya Leih (“Alexandria...Why”) 1978, Hadouta Masreya (“An Egyptian Story”) 1982, Al Yom El Sades (“The Sixth Day”) 1986 and Eskandaria Kaman wa kaman (“Alexandria Again and Again”) 1989.

Bab Al-Hadid
Still from Cairo Station featuring Youssef Chahine and Hind Rostum

Selim Sahab launches Egypt Children Choir

Selim Sahab’s choir aims using music education as a tool which can change the lives of orphans and homeless children. Being Sahab's most ambitious musical project to date, the Egypt Children Choir project has begun preparing for their first performance scheduled in the second half of October.

Up to this point, Sahab has held auditions for over 300 children, aged six to 12, in an effort to select 500-members for his choir.

Egypt Children Choir was founded through a collaboration between three organisations regulated by a joint protocol: Sahab’s Organisation for the Arab Creator, Egyptian Renaissance Association for Development (ERAD) and Egyptian Charity Association for Childhood Care (ECACC). As such, the choir consists of children from orphanages and charitable associations working with children, as well as centres operating under the Hope Village Society and addressing homeless children.

Selim Sahab
Selim Sahab during rehearsal with Egypt Children Choir (Photo: Ati Metwaly)


Sonam Kalra and the Sufi Gospel Project

Sonam Kalra and the Sufi Gospel Project from India, performed at the 7th International Samaa Festival for Spiritual Music and Chanting (20-27 September). The musicians from India performed shortly during the festival's opening and closing nights, and gave a special concert at the opera on Wednesday 24 September.

Kalra's velvet voice marvels along the paths of faith and music, reaching a creative blend of spirituality and art. At times reaching to poetry in their music, and at others singing known Western songs arranged by Kalra, the group brings with them message of interfaith harmony. Most of the musicians in the project come from gharana families, a lineage of musicians. What joins them is art they create, straight from their souls, convincing the audience with their musical capabilities, musical intuition and creative intellect emerging from the many compositions and their improvisations.

 Sonam Kalra and the Sufi Gospel Project
Sonam Kalra and the Sufi Gospel Project at the Cairo Opera House (Photo: Mona Abdel Karim)

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