Composer and conductor Hisham Gabr has stepped down from his position as director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Arts Centre.
Gabr has been director of the centre since May 2014, a time when the centre was still affected by the stagnation and artistic instability following the 2011 revolution.
Since then he has revived the activities of the centre, establishing an annual programme that spans many artistic genres.
He revived the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Summer Festival and expanded it, launched the Contemporary Theatre Festival and the Jazz Tales festival, and expanded the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Chamber Orchestra and Choir.
Prior to 2015, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Chamber Orchestra comprised 16 musicians, all strings. Gabr held auditions for new members and added wind and percussion, giving the orchestra the ability to perform a much wider repertoire.
Furthermore, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Choir, which in the post-revolution years was completely dissolved, was enlarged to 80 members in 2016, headed by choir master Rodica Ocheseanu.
Gabr was also the principal conductor and artistic director of the orchestra and choir during his time at the centre.
Ocheseanu on her Facebook page commented on the resignation: “When he came we were a 30 people choir without a proper rehearsal room, pianist and worthy projects. Now we have 200 active members, a proper choir room, a dedicated pianist, and scores and incredible projects under our belt…The children choir went to Germany, and nowadays is a 100 children choir… All of this because the Maestro believes in us and supported us to grow.”
Under the directorship of Gabr, the Arts Centre has managed to attract a large audience to its music halls, employing programming strategies aimed at productions that excel in artistic quality, all of which resulted in unprecedented results in a very short time.
As a composer, Gabr has composed music for film, theatre and musicals. His conducting career includes regular conducting of Egypt's national orchestras, Cairo Symhony Orchestra and Cairo Opera Orchestra. He is also a returning conductor to numerous international orchestras, including Gottingen Symphony Orchestra (Germany), Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra, Wroclaw Philharmonic (Poland), Astana Philharmonic Orchestra (Kazakhstan), Kiev Kamerata (Ukraine), and the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico, among others.
Gabr's resignation comes three months after Mostafa El-Feky replaced Ismail Serag El-Din as head of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Serag El-Din had been in place since the library's inauguration in 2002.
For more arts and culture news and updates, follow Ahram Online Arts and Culture on Twitter at @AhramOnlineArts and on Facebook at Ahram Online: Arts & Culture