Egyptian musicians in spotlight at Arab Music Days of Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Hall

Ati Metwaly , Tuesday 13 Sep 2022

Egyptian musicians joined two ensemble performances that took place this month at Germany’s renowned Pierre Boulez Hall (Pierre Boulez Saal)

Arabic Music Days


The Egyptian musicians performed as part of the Oyoun Ensemble in two events, on 7 and 10 September, featuring Lubana Al-Quntar and Naseer Shamma respectively.

Both concerts were part of the Arabic Music Days which featured four performances by the Arab world’s top musicians. The recurring event is a brainchild of renowned Iraqi oud virtuoso Naseer Shamma who took centre stage in one of the concerts.

On 7 September, Lubana Al Quntar, a coloratura soprano from Syria was accompanied by the Oyoun Ensemble featuring Egyptian musicians including Saber Abd Elsattar on qanoun, Mahmoud Bedair on cello, Salah Elden Ragab of double bass, Hany El-Badry on nay, Hany Bedair on oriental percussions, as well as a Berlin-based Syrian/Belgian pianist Angela Boutros.

The programme included known Arabic songs with a focus on the repertoire of Farid Al-Atrash and Mohamed Al-Qasabgi, and paid tribute to Asmahan.

On 10 September, Naseer Shamma took the stage himself together with the Oyoun Ensemble which featured the same instrumentalists joined by two more Egyptian musicians: Rania Omar on flute and Said Kamal on violin.

The ensemble performed original compositions by the Iraqi oud virtuoso.

The founder and main dynamo behind the Arabic Music Days, Naseer Shamma, explained in an interview released on the Pierre Boulez Saal’s website that the selection of musicians for Oyoun Ensemble is inspired by a concept of “takht,” a term that since eighth century refers to an Arabic classical music ensemble consisting of singer, oud, flute, qanun and percussion instruments performing on a wooden podium.

“People want to understand the [Arabic] culture through the instrument. It is important for us to present something very rich,” he comments on the takht that continues to be a paramount format of Arabic ensembles and which over the centuries has inspired musical traditions of the region.

Aside from two concerts with the Oyoun Ensemble, this edition of the Arab Music Days also showcased Aleph Ensemble (8 September) performing Arabic and Persian music, as well as the Maghreb region and Andalousian music presented by violinist Mohammed Otmani from Morocco and his ensemble (9 September).

The Pierre Boulez Hall’s website clarifies also that the Arab Music Days included also “an exhibition of works by visual artist Nja Mahdaoui (Tunisia), readings by poets Basim Alansar (Iraq) and Ghayath Al Madhoun (Palestine), and the Oscar-nominated film The Man Who Sold His Skin by Tunisian filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania.”

The previous edition of Arab Music Days took place between 1 and 5 March 2022, presenting one ensemble from the Arab world daily and focusing on trios. Egypt was represented by two trios: Trio Abozekrys and Teryola. The latter trio gave their international premiere in Berlin and until date continues to perform across prestigious stages in Egypt.

The Pierre Boulez Saal is one of the most prestigious concert halls in Berlin, founded by Daniel Barenboim. The hall features the top international Western classical musicians as well as it gives its stage to music from around the world emphasizing the plethora of cultural heritage presented through top quality performances.

Short link: