In Photos: El Nafikha brass quintet brings old and new tunes to Cairo's audience
Amina Abdel-Halim, Thursday 28 Jul 2016
The band performed at Cairo's El Sawy Culturewheel on Monday




It was a warm evening with a cool wind occasionally making its way to the River Hall at El Sawy Culturewheel, where on 25 July, a band consisting of brass players performed to a small and enthusiastic crowd of listeners.

Taken by the music played by El Nafikha band on the stage, some of the audience left their seats and got up to dance.

The show was lively and energetic, relying on lighting and costumes to convey the atmosphere and musical era of each song they performed.

The band started off wearing tarboosh (traditional red headdress widespread among the Egyptian middle classes until the middle decades of the last century) as they covered iconic Egyptian musicians such as Oum Kalthoum or Abdel Wahab; while their costumes got progressively less formal as they moved on to more modern tunes.

The line-up of El Nafikha (meaning The Blowers) brass ensemble, consists of Mohamed Sawwah and Walid Gabr on the trumpets, Amir Ibrahim and Ahmed Ismail on the trombones, and Masaki Okajima on the tuba. The brass players are accompanied by Khaled El Sayes on oriental percussions and Sameh Shaaban on drums.

The band often covers traditional Arabic music, arranging the compositions for brass instruments. In this interesting and uncommon combination, the trumpets, trombones and tuba become the musical protagonists, adding a Western touch to the well known Arabic tunes.

As graduates from the Cairo conservatory, it is in this institution that they met and decided to create a band that would introduce people to the sound of brass instruments.

As Sawwah explains, El Nafikha aims at "showing people how those instruments can actually sing the way a singer can,” by playing popular oriental tunes everyone knows and enjoys.

Describing their sound, the trumpeteer says "we would have to invent new terminology since it's never been done before in Oriental music. So I'd simply say brass music."

However, the show goes beyond just music.

"Our ambition is to create what we call musical theatre, a type of theatre where the only means of expression we have is our bodies and our instruments."

Throughout the past month, El Nafikha have already performed at the Sawy Culturewheel, as well as the Westown Hub.

They are set to perform at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina on Sunday, 31 July. Their next concert in Cairo is set to take place on 6 August, at El Geneina theatre in Al Azhar park.

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