Egyptian Lana Ben Halim wins Young Musicians of the Gulf competition

Ati Metwaly , Saturday 27 Feb 2021

Held this year online, the pan-Arab competition gathers young talents attending British schools

Lana Ben Halim
Lana Ben Halim (Photo: courtesy of Neveen Allouba's Facebook page)

Egyptian soprano Lana Ben Halim won the first prize at the Young Musicians of the Gulf 2021, a pan-Arab music competition shedding light on young singers and instrumentalists. The final round of the competition was held on 25 February.

"Every year for the past 10 years, no singer has been able to compete with instrumentalists. But through her strong musicality, dedication, and hard work, Lana Ben Halim shone throughout all the stages of the competition," said renowned Egyptian soprano and vocal coach Neveen Allouba on her Facebook page.

Among the many accomplishments of Allouba is her dedication to young singers whom she teaches through her involvement in academic institutions or at her Fabrica musical theatre company. She has brought to international operatic light many Egyptian talents.

Allouba has been coaching Ben Halim for nine years, believing she is one of the most promising young talents.

In her post Allouba congratulated the singer, adding that "you will find your place in the opera world, of that I have no doubt."

Soprano Ben Halim won the competition's Stella Taylor Shield and Lifetime Trophy after singing Je Veux Vivre (Juliet's Waltz) from Charles Gounod's opera Romeo and Juliet to piano accompaniment in the finals.

Lana Ben Halim
Lana Ben Halim during the performance in the competition's finals (Photo: still from the YouTube video)

The aria sung by Juliet is one of the concert favourites, yet it is also considered one of the most challenging compositions for soprano with Classic FM describing it as "a stunning piece of vocal gymnastics." Ben Halim's lively coloratura gives a lot of youthful sparkle and grace to this aria, while testifying to the singer's great talent, meticulous preparation and passion for performing.

In the competition's first round Ben Halim performed aria O Luce Di Quest'anima from Gaetano Donizetti's operatic melodramma Linda di Chamounix.

Ben Halim is the only Egyptian musician who reached this year's finals, competing with peers from the UAE, Bahrain, and Oman. The finalists were mainly instrumentalists and another singer, Karma Alami, who won Best Bahrain-based Musician award.

Ben Halim is also one of two talents representing the New Cairo British International School, with the second being Leyla Erturk, who reached the competition's second round for instrument performances.

"In addition to her vocal talent, Ben Halim also plays piano very well," Allouba commented to Ahram Online about Ben Halim.

Hosted by St Christopher's School in Bahrain since 1998, the Young Musicians of the Gulf is an annual "celebration of young musical talent in the Gulf, and has since become a most prestigious and high-profile competition in the region," reads the competition's website.

The competition welcomes all formations consisting of talented musicians from British schools in Arab countries. This year, due to COVID-19, the competition held virtual performances, showcasing only solo musicians.

Below video presents the finalists. Ben Halim's segment begins at minute 24:55. 

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