Cairo Celebration Choir spreads joy in new video The Day

Ati Metwaly , Saturday 22 Aug 2020

The music video The Day was released last Thursday across numerous social media and audio platforms


Following months of shutdown due to Covid-19, the Cairo Celebration Choir (CCC) released a new music video titled The Day (El-Youm).

The song, performed by the choir, guest soloists, and musicians, went viral only 48 hours after its release on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, scoring 100,000 views in total. In addition, the audio version of The Day was released on Spotify, Anghami and other audio platforms.

The video follows a technique popularised during the months of shutdown, presenting the artists in tiles as each performs from their home.

The song carries a delightful, cheerful air as the lyrics lead the listeners to reflect on the benefits from the months of isolation. The lyrics tell us that as we meet our loved ones once again (after the lockdown) we have changed, our perspective on life being deeper. It is through those past months that we have developed and as such gained an opportunity to create a positive impact on the world around us. It is time for the new Day.

“Since our activities stopped, the choir kept asking me to do something for online viewers. I didn’t want to create yet another composition gathering the choir members into one video. There had to be an idea and a message,” Nayer Nagui, the founder, artistic director and conductor of the Cairo Celebration Choir explains to Ahram Online.

The Day is based on Nagui’s composition from 2009, commissioned to him by the Pan African Cultural Festival (Panaf) held in 2009 in Algiers. "The original lyrics talked about Africa. I changed them to words suiting the current situation and the message the choir shares with the listeners today,” Nagui clarifies, adding that the original composition was successful at numerous venues. Following its Algiers premiere, the song was performed in Morocco and Spain.

The video gathers 90 members of the Cairo Celebration Choir, an over 100-member strong body, which was founded in 2000 by Nagui. Several guest soloists joined the online project including: soprano Dina Iskander, mezzo soprano Jolie Faizy, Arabic singer Rehab Metawi, in addition to instrumentalists Diaa Badr Tass (percussion), Steven Simon (bass guitar), the Ayoub Sisters (violin and cello), Ramadan Mansour (tabla), Nashaat Labib (req), and Veronica Bievz (piano).

The video gave special thanks to Peter Bahgat (for guitar audio tracks) and Mayada Emam (for sign language). Music, lyrics and choir arrangement were done by Nagui, with general arrangement by Steven Simon.

Nagui underlines the great effort the whole team exerted during the production of the music video. “While the choir followed the composition as is, the soloists improvised their lines,” he explains.

The making of The Day song by Cairo Celebration Choir (Photo: courtesy of CCC)

Nagui describes the audio recording as “a real hero of the production,” explaining that each singer and instrumentalist recorded their lines individually from home, using their mobile phones.

“Sound editing and mixing were done by Mafdy Thabet in Dream Studio. Mafdy collected a total of 152 tracks, each recorded with a different phone, in different environments and with different acoustics. Turning it all into one work that sounds uniform as if it were recorded in one studio is a real rocket science work,” Nagui says.

He adds that prior to the recording, the singers were given a long list of instructions from video director Mohamed El Alfy, who worked with video editor Sherif El Alfy representing Grand Creation.

“Each position of the singer, the direction of his eyes, the outfit, the reactions, and head movements were meticulously planned by Mohamed,” Nagui explains.

The making of The Day song by Cairo Celebration Choir (Photo: courtesy of CCC)

The long list of all the artists involved is duly enumerated in lengthy credits at the end of the video, accompanied by a few short bloopers from the making.

The two months of hard work have definitely paid off. The final video is an impressive five-minute-long work filled with cheerful musicality and a huge dose of positive energy while giving the viewer an impression that they also communicate with one another on the screen.

“I never thought that it would be such a big deal, to be honest. On the financial level, the production of the video is equal to the long journey that includes preparations and staging of a full, one-and-a-half hour long concert,” Nagui concludes.

The video is part of the year-long celebration of the Cairo Celebration Choir’s 20th anniversary. As Nagui revealed, the festive year started with the Christmas 2019 concert and will conclude with the documentary film about the choir scheduled to be released by the end of 2020.

The making of The Day song by Cairo Celebration Choir (Photo: courtesy of CCC)

Founded in 2000 by conductor and composer Nayer Nagui, the CCC consists of over 120 members from over seven nationalities from various backgrounds and professions. The singers came together through the passion for music, a dedication to singing and a desire to spread cross-cultural understanding and musical appreciation in Egypt, the Arab region and internationally.

The CCC’s repertoire has developed over the years to include classical music compositions, arrangements of well-known Arabic and traditional pieces as well as world music.

The CCC has performed in numerous prestigious venues in Egypt, including the Cairo Opera House, the Alexandria Opera House's Sayed Darwish Theatre, the Manasterly Palace, Saladin’s Citadel, All Saints Cathedral, the Basilique Church, among others. On the international scene, the choir enchanted audiences at Morocco’s National Mohammed V Theatre in Rabat, and was joined by the French Choeur régional Vittoria d’Ile-de-France in a performance in Soisy-sous-Montmorency before heading to the UNESCO Main Theatre Hall in Paris in 2014.

The choir won the Silver Award for Stylish Interpretation of Arabic Music in the “Prague Voices” choir competition in the Czech Republic, and in 2016 it earned the Silver Award Diploma in the category of Folklore with Accompaniment at the World Choir Games in Sochi, Russia.

The CCC is also known to give annual Christmas concerts at the Cairo Opera House, an event attracting large audiences during the festive days.

Cairo Celeration Choir in one of their Cairo performances (2019) (Photo: CCC's Facebook page)

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