Art Alert: From ethnic folk to gnawa rhythms, Cairo's El-Genaina launches April music programme

Ahram Online , Monday 28 Mar 2016

The first two events in El-Genaina's April series will include performances by Lebanese singer and composer Abeer Nehme and the University of Gnawa musical project

El Genaina
Abeer Nehme [L], Aziz Sahmaoui [R] (Photo: courtesy of El-Genaina Company)

Two concerts will launch El-Genaina Theatre's April music events, with Lebanese singer and composer Abeer Nehme performing on 7 April and the University of Gnawa musical project with musicians from Morocco and Senegal on 8 April.

Later in the month, the theatre will host the Alif and Djmawi Africa bands.

Winner of the 2010 Murex D'Or distinction award, Nehme is regarded as the first Arab singer and one of a only a few worldwide to perform in more than 20 languages.

She specialises in performing Arabic traditional tarab, traditional folk songs, Arabo-Andalusian songs, ancient Syriac, Aramaic, Byzantine and Maronite chants, opera, and Western music.

She graduated from the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, a private Catholic university in Lebanon, with a bachelor’s degree then a master’s degree in music.

Her albums include: Abeer Salaty and Al-Motanabi Mosaferan Abadn. She is currently preparing a new double album of compositions by Marcel Khalife.

She is also a musicologist and producer.

In 2012 she created and presented the 40-episode documentary series Ethnopholia Music of the Nations, which explores the roots and origins of culture, folk music and ethnic music around the world.

Abeer Nehme
Abeer Nehme (Photo: Promotional material by El-Geneina Theatre on event Facebook page)

The second concert on 8 April will feature The University of Gnawa musical project.

Launched in 2010 by Aziz Sahmaoui and other musicians from Morocco and Senegal, the project relies on fusion between gnawa rhythms and the musical heritage of each of the musicians. 

Sahmaoui is a musician, poet and lyricist who started the music project University of Gnawa in 2010 with other Moroccan and Senegalese musicians.

Gnawa music is a Moroccan genre that combines ritual poetry with traditional music of ancient African Islamic spiritual songs and rhythms.

The band created their unique sound from experimenting with gnawa rhythms and playing Chaabi, berbere and madingue music.

University of Gnawa comprises of Sahmaoui, who plays the Gumbri, Ngnoni, Mandole and Percussion, Alune Wade on bass, Adhil Mighrani on percussion, Cheikh diallo on kora and keyboards, Hervé Samb on guitar) and Jon Grandcamp on drums.

They released a self-titled album in 2011.

Sahmaoui’s most recent album, Mazal, was released in 2014 and features musicians from different countries and diverse musical backgrounds, including flamenco and rock.

He has performed concerts in France, Europe, North Africa and the United States.

University of Gnawa
University of Gnawa (Photo: Perrine Perez Fuentes, courtesy of Aziz Sahmaoui website)


Thursday 7 April, 8pm
Abeer Nahme

Firday 8 April, 8pm
The University of Gnawa and Aziz Sahmaoui

El-Genaina Theatre, Al-Azhar Park, Salah Salem Road, El-Darassa, Cairo

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