Egyptian business tycoon Samih Sawiris to play the piano in charity concert in El Gouna

Ati Metwaly , Wednesday 1 Feb 2023

Samih Sawiris will play the piano accompanied by the Cairo Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ahmed El-Saedy in a grand charity concert in El Gouna on 4 February.



The concert will be the first appearance of the Egyptian business mogul. Founder of the exclusive Red Sea resort El Gouna, Sawiris is the executive chairman and CEO of Orascom Development Holding.  

“I am looking forward to this concert very much,” El -Saedy told Ahram Online, underlining the soloist's great determination to perform with the orchestra.

“Sawiris has been practising for the past six years, working very hard to meet the challenge,” he added. 

The Egyptian businessman was not playing the piano and over the past years he studied with a number of piano teachers, he noted.

The concerto is a combination of Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major which second movement is embedded in between the first and third movements composed especially for the occasion.

The 65-musician strong orchestra, all from the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, will perform at El Gouna stage. The evening will also include the Adagietto from Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 and Brahms' Symphony No. 2.

El-Saedy and Sawiris have a long history of cooperation, one that resulted in numerous concerts at the Red Sea resort, including those taking place during the El Gouna Film Festival, an event founded by Sawiris' brother, a businessman in his own right, Naguib Sawiris. The festival ran between 2017 and 2021.

"Samih Sawiris has a strong interest in music and culture at large. He supports numerous cultural projects," El-Saedy said, adding that the businessman's approach to culture reminds him of the classical music patrons who, over the many centuries of the Western classical music, financed orchestras and commissioned composers to create works that stood the test of time.

Some of those patrons also tried to play music or compose by themselves, as was the case with king Frederick II (1712-1786) of Prussia who played the flute in a self-founded chamber orchestra. He also composed many pieces, including four flute concertos, 121 flute sonatas (11 of which are lost), three symphonies, and three marches. 

Much earlier, in England, kings Henry V (1386-1422) and Henry VIII (1491-1547), alongside Pope Lio X (1475-1521) were also known to compose small pieces and create some arrangements, many for the use of the Church. 

Numerous other wealthy men (mostly representing nobility and clergy) considered music and arts in general to be an important part of cultural and human development, practising them abundantly and supporting the artists. Many of them played the piano, an instrument that was considered part of life in any noble household.

The proceeds from the Sawiris concert will be donated to the Sawiris Foundation's Schools for Egypt project. The fully sold out-concert tickets are priced at EGP 450 ($15).

El-Saedy is among the leading conductors in Egypt's classical music scene. He served as the Cairo Symphony Orchestra's principal conductor between 1991 and 2003, during which time he undeniably raised the artistic level of the orchestra. By the end of his term, the orchestra’s repertoire had included the most demanding classical compositions, which were performed in Egypt and internationally renowned concert halls.

The maestro returned as the orchestra's principal conductor and music director in 2014, a post which he holds until present.

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