Ahmed El-Mougy: Egyptian musician behind orchestral notation for the Golden Parade

Eslam Omar , Friday 9 Apr 2021

Music for the Golden Parade was composed by Hesham Nazih, the orchestra was conducted by Nader Abbassi, while Ahmed El-Mougy played an important role in writing the orchestral notation

Ahmed El Mougy

While the nation's TV channels and newspapers are merging in a continued applause to praise the artistic crew of Saturday's Golden Parade, that saw the transfer of 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies, Ahram Online interviews one of the key players in the event, Ahmed El-Mougy.

Nader Abbassi is a well-known Egyptian conductor who led the orchestra during the historic event, giving life to music by Hesham Nazih. The latter is known for scores to dozens of films and songs, many of which are engraved in the hearts of a whole generation. The composition performed during the Golden Parade however, gave a special tribute to one of the many unknown soldiers; Ahmed El-Mougy, a composer in his own right who this time worked on music notation. His job has been praised as being very well executed with an eye for detail and a perfect transcription of the composition's dynamics.

Ahmed El-Mougy's participation at the Golden Parade included providing the instrumental and vocal music sheet for all the sections of over 170-musicians-strong United Philharmonic Orchestra and the 20-member choir that he also had trained. Moreover, El-Mougy assisted in the music-visual cues during the event's broadcasting under director Amr Aziz's big battalion.

In short, while preparing the notes, El-Mougy played one of the most vital roles in making the revival of the Egyptian ancient language possible.

He spoke to Ahram Online about the busy week leading to the event and praised each member for their team work.

"Being part of the Golden Parade is such an un-describable honor," Ahmed El-Mougy told Ahram Online on Sunday with a happy but tired voice. "To feel that you are responsible [for] representing the great Egyptian civilisation to the whole world fumed my motivation to work hard with faith and perfection," he added.

Excellence starts early

El-Mougy graduated with honors from the music theory and composition department at the Arab Music Institute in 2009. He comes from households where music is the main language, as his grandfather is a prominent composer known as Mohammad El-Mougy and his uncle is composer Yehya El-Mougy.

For over a decade, the young and successful music producer cooperated with Arab pop stars like that of Amal Maher and Samria Said. He wrote scores for two commercially successful theatre shows including, Ashraf Abdel-Baqy's El-Locanda and Sabaheya Mobarka. He also wrote for films that included Yasser Shafeei's short ' A dream of the Scene' for which he recieved an award by the Milano Festival for Latin and African Films.

"I participated in a number of important patriotic events before but the feeling this time while working as part of the Golden Parade was way different," said El-Mougy.

His orchestral works also include director Khaled Youssef's 'Krama' as well as the composition of the Rafle Aircrats theme in the ceremony of the Suez Canal inauguration. His excellent work on writing orchestral notation developed ever since he started cooperating with acclaimed conductor Nader Abbassi.

Ahmed El Mougy

The big job little known

Meeting maestro Abbassi in 2014 brought to light El-Mougy's outstanding precision in writing for each section of the orchestra and the world appreciated his outcome later at the Golden Parade.

El-Mougi has however already cooperated with Abbassi in other projects including a concert for Ammar El-Shereei, performed by the United Philharmonic Orchestra and featuring stars Abdallah El-Rowaished and Riham Abdel-Hakim, who also starred on Saturday.

Among the pair's acclaimed cooperation are three episodes of Essaad Youness' Sahebat Al-Sa'ada TV show; '121 years cinema', 'Moody El-Emam works' and '123 years cinema'. For the '123 years cinema', El-Mougy cooperated with Hesham Nazih for the first time, writing notes and performing as a piano soloist for two of his most known film soundtracks; The Snake and The Ladder and The Blue Elephant.

"The maestro chose me to be the Golden Parade's orchestral notation writer. I owe him," said El-Mougy about Abbassi. His faith in him also led to a cooperation with Lebanese mega star Majida El-Roumi, for whom he also arranged several songs including Ala Bab Misr, which was hugely applauded in Al-Qobba Palace when performed last Friday.

Ahmed El Mougy with maestro Nade Rabbassi and the orchestra during the Golden Parade rehearsals
Ahmed El Mougy with maestro Nade Rabbassi and the orchestra during the Golden Parade rehearsals

A night to remember

Ahmed El-Mougy, who spent recent months in writing score for the Golden Parade's music, shadowing Abbassi in long days of rehearsals, has repeatedly shown great pride for being part of the event, speaking about team effort in the majority of his remarks.

"This high morale was obvious to me in the effort of all members of the great event, from the great maestro, to the genius composition of Nazih and to the performance of the orchestra, choir, soloists and each member of the orchestra as well as the sound and airing directors and the crews. Each and every one inspired me with their indescribable and kind of spiritual momentum."

The main concept of the music symphony was based on a simulation of music in ancient Egypt. Accompanying the orchestra was traditional folk instruments like the harp, the nay (a kind of flute) and the rebab. One of the most significant parts of the Golden Parade was the ancient Egyptian language performance of the Song of Isis, from the Book of the Dead.

"The process I used in cooperation with Hesham Nazih was that I adapted his vision in orchestral instrumentation to make all translation and transformation to create sheet music with respect to the range, register of each instrument section, and music dynamics," said El-Mougy.

"Cooperation with Nazih was smooth and efficient. For example, when I suggest some colouring or an instrument - he did not use - to make a better orchestral balance, he boosts the idea," he added.

Ahmed El Mougy and Hesham Nazih during the Golden Parade rehearsals

Song of Isis

"The Song of Isis played a magic role in the great spiritual and patriotic energy we felt. It quickly became part of us when repeating it during the rehearsals. It becomes a part of us and we deeply believed it," El-Mougy stated.

Ahmed El-Mougy emotionally explained that after Nazih wrote his main theme, Abbassi chose the poem and the three were stunned at how perfectly it fits. They depended on experts, including professor Maissara Abd-Allah Hussein to translate it into its original ancient language and spent hours before we agreed on a specific pronunciation.

"The vision of the maestro played a vital role in making this possible, with his great experience as an opera singer too. We spent a lot of time on studying just to make sure the pronunciation is correct. We used the consultancy of a few Egyptology experts who suggested various versions of the pronunciation until after some long research, we agreed on the united one that we played," said El-Mougy.

"I was responsible in turning these sounds into syllables that could be easily read by the choir, considering all the vowels and consonants after long meetings with the Maestro and the composer," he added.

Ahmed El Mougy

Tribute to the United Philharmonic Orchestra

Ahmed El-Mougy was keen on mentioning each member of the United Philharmonic Orchestra, an ensemble that consists of the best Egyptian musicians.

They are as follows:

Nader Abbasi (conductor)

Strings section:

First violins: Medhat Abd-El-Salam (leader), Ahmed Nabil Mounib, Salma Sorour, Tsvetelina Kristeva, Ahmed Mahmoud, Martina Ricciardo, Rana Haggag, Amira Ahmed Ali, Shady Abdel-Salam, Radwa Sameh, Mohamed Mohie Sharara, Hossam El-Din Ezzat and Amira Fouad.

Second violins: Ahmed Ali Abbas (secondo leader ), Amir Akhnoukh, Mervat Garana, Khaled Samir, Ahmed Sharara, Ayman Abbass, Wafaa Saeid, Ali Zein, Shadan Osama, Merna Sorour, Rawan Ahmed and Al-moaffaq Ismaeil.

Violas: Alaa Khalil (leader), Riham Mahmoud, Mohammed Farid, Nourhan Ossama, Amir Zekry, Mahmoud El-Fanty, Essam Afifi and Raywan Sherif.

Celli: Shady Hanna (leader), Ramy Yehya, Mohammed Abdel-Fatth, Mohammed Ahmed, Many Ghoneim, Nour El-Din Shaker, Diaa El -Din Heggo, Tamer El -Ebrashy, Mohammed Salah and Hany Youssef.

Double bass: Sherif Elian (leader), Ahmed Osman, Karim Wassef, Karim Adnan, Sherin Hamed, Amr Seif, Faten Gamal, Mohammed Seif El-Yazal.

Woodwind and brass sections:

Flutes: Mohammed Abdelrahman, Mourad Heshmat (flute 2)
Oboes: Ahmed Farag, Mohammed Weheidy
Clarinets: Amr Emam, Mostafa Saeid, Mohamed Mostafa (bass clarinet)
Bassoons: Salwa Fouad, Rana Nofal
Horns: Myrddin Davies, Biagio Consoli, Boles Pola, Bassma Mostafa, Maryam Essam, Amr Ashraf
Trumpets: Mostafa Gamal, Aly Magdy, Mohammad Sawwah
Trombones: Zafar Azimov, Ahmed Abdel-Aziz, Marwa Mohammed (bass trombone)
Bass tuba: Masaki Okajima
Nay: Hany El-Badry

Percussions: Reem El-Beheiry, Heba Hany, Toqa Ali, Nesma Darweesh, Mohammed Arafa, Emy Khalaf, Nahed Arafa, Hany Bedeir and Radwa El Beheiry (timpani).

Harps: Amira Hamed, Toqa Mohammed, Nourhan Hamdy


Soprano: Amira Ahmed, Amira Gamal, Bothaina Khairy, Passant Ashraf, Treaza Naqui, Demyana Gamal, Riham Mostafa, Riham Nessim, Shorouk Ahmed, Sherry Ahmed, Ola Saied, Madonna Magdy, Marina Eid, Maryam Mounir,

Mezzo-Soprano: Aya Khalifa, Emy Mamdoh, Christine Louis, Lydia Samir, Linda Adel, Marina George, Monica Atef, Nashwa Essam, Nora Adel, Nourhan Hussein, Heba ElSayed, Marina Lamei

Alto: Esraa Ehab, Diaa Mohammad, Rawda Ahmed, Sarah Adel, Sarah Nader, Shereen Abo elwafa, Martina Habib, Marina Fawzy, Mayssa Mohammed, Manal Fayed, Mayar Fahmy, Yara Hassan, Regeina Amin

Tenor: Ahmed Samy, Ahmed Sharaf, Ahmed Abbass, Asser Ali, Amr Salah, Kamel Nagui, Mohammed Ali, Mahmoud Heider, Mahmoud Azmy, Mahmoud Fathy, Marwan Abdel Moeim, Mina Eid, Khaled Adly, Mahmoud Samir

Bariton: Ahmed El Gebaly, Ashraf Khamis, Bassem Abdel Aziz, Bassem Abdel Wahab, Ragab Elsayed, Mohammed Hassan, Ezz El Din Mamdouh, Marco Maher, Mohammed El Ghazouly, Yasser Aly, Youhanna Victor, Youssef Moaness, Omar Labib, Ramsis Mamdouh, Sherif Abdel Khalek

Bass: Afraim Alfy, Islam Mostafa, Ahmed Salem, Ahmed Adel, Ahmed Mostafa, Osama Gamal, Amir Hossam, Remon Malak ( Choir Manager ), Sherif Talaat, Maher Khalaf, Mohammed Marwan, Mahmoud Wahid

Executive team:

Emad Ragab (executive director), Sherif Roshdy (managing director), Mohammed Shokry (orchestral technician), Mostafa Sayed Hendy (orchestral technician)

Ahmed El Mougy

"We kept repeating the phrases in the rehearsals as if we were speaking this language or as if it was buried deep inside us," emotionally concluded Ahmed El-Mougy.

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