Egypt's Cultural Development Fund launches summer concerts with oud duo
Ahram Online, , Friday 17 Jul 2020
Ghassan Al-Youssef and Dina Abdel-Hamid performed at Cairo’s Manasterly palace this week


A concert by Egypt's well known oud duo, Ghassan Al-Youssef and Dina Abdel-Hamid, took place at the open air court of Cairo’s Manasterly palace on Thursday.

The event was the first in the series of summer concerts launched by the Cultural Development Fund (CDF), a body operating under Egypt's Ministry of Culture. The CDF is in charge of the programming at dozens of cultural venues across Cairo and other cities.

Known by fans as the Arabian Yin and Yang of Oud, Al-Youssef and Dina Abdel-Hamid are widely known for their captivating joint performances; at times they play two separate ouds and in others instances they play simultaneously on the same instrument, with Abdel-Hamid playing with the left hand and Al-Youssef playing with the right.

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On Thursday, the duo performed some of their well-known compositions, as well as traditional pieces from Arabic musical heritage.

They included well-known works by Mohamed el-Qasabgi, Riad Al Sunbati, Sheikh Zakaria Ahmad, and Farid El-Atrash, arranged for the two ouds.

Graduates of Naseer Shamma’s Beit Al-Oud (The House of Oud) in Cairo, the two musicians are frequent performers on Cairo's stages. They also run their own institution in New Cairo, the House of Music and Arts, where they teach oud to children and young people.

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Situated on El Rawda island near Downtown Cairo, Manasterly palace, built in 1850, incorporates many versions of traditional Islamic architecture styles - Ottoman, Moorish, Persian - in eye-catching and breathtaking halls.

In recent years, the palace has been closed for periods, but it has still intermittently hosted recitals and chamber music concerts.

Among the palace's treasures is its grand piano, which has been played by numerous renowned Egyptian and international musicians.

According to the CDF, the organisers took all preventive measures in order to take care of the audience’s health, such as arranging the seating in order to ensure distancing between the attendees.

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