Art Alert: Egyptian Islamic chanter Mahmoud ElTohamy in Alexandria on Thursday

Eslam Omar , Tuesday 18 Aug 2020

Head of the Egyptian Association of Religious Hymns and Litanies El-Tohamy spoke to Ahram Online about his ongoing project to revive traditional Islamic chanting in various music approaches

Mahmoud ElTohamy

Famous Egyptian Islamic chanter Mahmoud El-Tohamy will perform a concert on Thursday 20 August at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina's Art Centre amid its 18th International Summer Festival.

"The concert is part of my big ongoing project that aims to revive the standard 'fos-ha' Arabic language and present it in a modern arrangement that is open to various music cultures from across the globe," the head and founder of the Egyptian Association of Religious Hymns and Litanies El-Tohamy told Ahram Online ahead of his anticipated concert.

With a repertoire of over 300 poems, El-Tohamy and his band will be performing some his poems like 'Al-Burda', by Al-Busiri of the 13th century, as well as new originals like 'Rasamtok' ("I draw you").

Born in 1979, El-Tohamy, the son of pioneer Sufi chanter Sheikh Yassin El-Tohamy, started his career early in boyhood following in the footsteps of his father, performing Sufi poetry chants in traditional Islamic Sunni events across the country and abroad for crowds that sometimes numbered in the hundreds of thousands in big moulid events in Cairo's Al-Hussein and Al-Saida Zeinab districts.

El-Tohamy, who has been featured in various concerts since 2018 with Egypt's Grammy Award winner Fathy Salama and his band Sharkiat, part of a project named 'Sufism vs Modernism' to revive the genre in new styles, is developing various approaches for the traditional praying, praises and preaching lyrics of Islamic classical chanting art.

The two-week festival, which kicked off its 18th International Summer Festival on Saturday with a performance by Dina El-Wedidi and her band, is featuring a variety of performances and lectures on different art forms before it concludes with a performance by pop star Mostafa Amar on 29 August.

Cultural events and activities in Egypt were resumed last month as part of phase one of the country's reopening after the COVID-19 shutdowns. All events are being held under strict measures that include social distancing, obligatory masks, and sanitisation.

Thursday 20 August, 8pm
Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Art Centre, Alexandria

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