Egyptian soprano Fatma Said among nominees for BBC Music Magazine awards

Ati Metwaly , Sunday 28 Feb 2021

The awards are open to all online users with voting accepted until 18 March

Music awards

The internationally renowned Egyptian soprano Fatma Said has been nominated at BBC Music Magazine awards in the vocal segment of the competition.

"I am excited and honoured to learn that I am nominated for the BBC Music Magazine's 2021 Vocal Award alongside wonderful artists that I admire and look up to," the singer wrote on her Facebook page earlier this week.

Said is nominated for her El-Nour (The Light) debut album that was released in October 2020 by Warner Classics.

For the awards, BBC chose to feature Aatini Al Naya Wa Ghanni (Give Me the Flute and Sing) from Said's 17-track debut album which "connects three cultures and languages – Arabic, French, and Spanish – and shows how much, despite cultural, geographical, and historical differences, they have a lot in common musically," the singer wrote on her Facebook last year when announcing the album's release.

El-Nour includes tracks by Maurice Ravel, Manuel De Falla, José Serrano Simeón, Fernando Obradors and Gamal Abdel-Rahim, among others

Aatini Al Naya Wa Ghanni is one of the most beloved songs of the Arab world, originally performed by Lebanese music icon Fairouz in the 1960s. Lyrics to the song are taken from a poem titled the Procession by Lebanese Poet Gibran Khalil Gibran.

"Give me the nay and sing, for singing is the secret of existence. And the sound of the nay remains after the end of existence ..." the lyrics read.

After releasing the video from a recording session of Aatini Al Naya Wa Ghanni to Warner Classics' YouTube in June 2020, Said wrote: "The poetry is very symbolic and philosophical in [its]feeling and the way we developed it in the studio with the musicians was extremely special: some of them had never heard this musical setting by Najib Hankash before, so there was this beautiful lack of any expectation of how it should sound, and we all improvised spontaneously, listening to one another. It was a creation of complete bliss."

The song also features Tim Allhoff (piano), Itamar Doari (percussion), Henning Sieverts (double bass), Tamer Pinarbasi (kanun), and Burcu Karadağ (nay flute).

The BBC Music Magazine praised Fatma Said's album, saying "The Egyptian soprano dazzles with this debut, not just as a performer but as an innovator. Her enrapturing programme crosses borders, taking the listener from Ravel and Berlioz to Abdel-Rahim and Sayed Darwish. The arrangements are inventive, too, all performed by a stellar supporting cast of musicians including pianist Malcolm Martineau."

The competition is open to all online users with voting being accepted until 18 March.

Three music albums were nominated by BBC in the vocal category; besides Said's El-Nour album, two other albums are Mahler featuring duet Sarah Connolly (mezzo-soprano) and Robert Dean Smith (tenor) performing with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Jurowski; and Chanson d'Amour with songs by Ravel, Debussy, Poulenc and Fauré performed by Sabine Devieilhe (soprano) to Alexandre Tharaud on the piano.

Other segments of the competition include: orchestral, concerto, opera, choral, chamber and instrumental. A total of 21 nominated recordings have been announced "from across seven categories, each chosen by an expert panel of BBC Music Magazine critics, who worked through over the 197 recordings that were awarded five-star reviews in 2020," reads the BBC Music Magazine's website.

The BBC Music Magazine Awards shed light on premiere recordings and new versions of old favourites. The listeners are invited to vote (until 18 March) by following the website's directives. The winners will then be announced in April.

Follow this link to vote for one of the albums in the vocal segment of the awards and this link to view all the categories of the awards.

Music awards

Fatma Said is one of Egypt's brightest stars of classical music with a portfolio that includes a series of significant international accomplishments.

Said's singing career took a serious turn when, at the age of 14, she enrolled at the vocal studio of Neveen Allouba.

After graduating high school she traveled to Germany to continue her music studies, enrolling at the Hanns Eisler School of Music in Berlin where she studied under Renate Faltin.

She later won the 8th Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition in Dublin.

In 2011, Said won her second award at the 16th International Schuman Lied Contest, as well as the Grand Award at the Giulio Peroti International Opera Contest.

In 2012, she won both first prize and the audience prize at the 7th Leyla Gencer Voice Competition that took place in Istanbul, Turkey.

Said then decided to apply for a scholarship at the prestigious La Scala Academy in Milan.

After four rounds of screenings, Said found herself in a group of 11 young talents chosen by the Academy from thousands of applicants.

She was the first Egyptian singer to be accepted to this world-renowned institution, and went on to perform there in Mozart's Magic Flute.

Said was also one of six musicians selected by BBC Radio 3 to take part in its New Generation Artist Scheme from 2016 to 2018.

In early 2020, Said signed a recording contract with a leading classical label: Warner Classics. This cooperation resulted with a release of her debut album El-Nour in October of the same year. 

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