PROGRAMME: Music for all audiences with Cairo Symphony Orchestra

Ati Metwaly, Thursday 4 Apr 2013

Throughout the month of April, the Cairo Symphony Orchestra offers concerts targeting a variety of audiences and tastes. Ahram Online brings you closer to the Cairo Symphony Orchestra's versatile April programme

Cairo Symphony Orchestra in 53rd season (2011-2012). Photo by Sherif Sonbol

Every Saturday evening, for the last few decades, the Cairo Symphony Orchestra has put on a concert showcasing the variety of colours symphonic music provides. This April, though not necessarily on a Saturday, there is something for everyone, from Wagner to a programme for children. Read more about the orchestra's plans for April below:

Saturday 6 April at 8pm, Cairo Opera House main hall:

With soloist Abdel Hamid El-Showiekh on violin and Francois Guye on cello, the Cairo Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Benoit Willmann, a guest conductor who is the artistic director of Sinfonietta de Genève. Willmann is also a clarinettist and continues to perform with Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, a Swiss Symphony Orchestra based in Geneva.

The programme will include: Elgar's Serenade for Strings, Brahms' Double concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra in A minor, Op 102 and Honegger's Symphony No.3. Liturgique

Saturday 13 April at 8pm, at Cairo Opera House main hall
Sunday 14 April at 8pm, at Sayed Darwish Theatre (Alexandria Opera House)

Conducted by its principal conductor, Jiri Petrdlik from the Czech Republic, the Cairo Symphony Orchestra will join the world-wide celebrations of Richard Wagner's bicentennial. The evenings will include a selection of Orchestral Works from Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Parsifal and Rienzi.

2013 marks important anniversaries of a number of composers. Germans celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Richard Wagner (1813-1883), Italians the birth of Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901). This is topped with Polish celebrations of the centenary of birth of Witold Lutoslawski.

The celebrations echo with hundreds of commemorative concerts across the globe and festivals dedicated to the aforementioned composers. Some events have provoked controversy, as was the case with Milan's La Scala which chose Wagner for the opening of its season in December 2012. The concert conducted by Daniel Barenboim, Teatro alla Scala Music Director, created a fierce - and equally fascinating - polemic within Italian society surprised with the choice of the German iconic composer over their own Verdi.

Though Egypt does not take part in international musical debates, two evenings with Wagner will give the audiences a chance to sample the wealth of one of the greatest German composers, Richard Wagner.

Tuesday 16 April at 8pm pm, at Sayed Darwish Theatre (Alexandria Opera House)

A Gala concert with A Cappella Choir led by choir master Maya Gvineria will perform choral works by Schubert, Dvorak and Carl Orff. The Cairo Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Jiri Petrdlik.

The A Cappella Choir was founded on 1 September, 1999, to basically perform non-operatic works of the standard choir repertoire. In September 2000, Maya Gvineria was appointed as Choir Master and her intensive work with the choir has given it a high artistic level. Back in the 2000s, A Cappella Choir operated under the artistic supervision of Ahmed El-Saedi, and to date plays an integral role along the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, with which it performs masterpieces of both sacred and secular music.

Saturday 20 April at 8pm, at Cairo Opera House main hall

In this special concert tailored for the youngest audiences, the Cairo Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Magdy Boghdady. The evening will include Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, Bizet's Jeux d'enfants (Children's Games) and Saint-Saëns' Le carnaval des animaux (The Carnival of the Animals). The narrator of the evening will be Abdel Wehab El-Sayed with piano soloists Elena Dzamashvili and Haitham Ibrahim.

It is an important practice for the international orchestras to introduce children to classical music. This is done through concerts tailored for children and young listeners, along with additional activities bringing children to the concert halls. Egypt does not differ in this regard from the international arena. Until the early 2000s, the Cairo Opera House was offering a large variety of events for the youngest audiences through the concerts by the Cairo Symphony Orchestra. Last was Ahmed El-Saedi, who during his term as the orchestra's principal conductor and artistic director (1993-2003) executed many efforts to include children in the audience. The following management did not include children in most of the standard repertoire of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, nor its chamber off-springs. Though the practice saw a significant decline in the past decade, this season witnessed an interesting initiative by Nayer Nagui who conducted a concert for children in October 2012, but with the Cairo Opera Orchestra which he heads.

April 20 concert for children conducted by Magdy Boghdady is the only initiative so far for the Cairo Symphony Orchestra to reach out to children this season. Hopefully this is an indication that the upcoming season will unveil even more activities for the youngest children.

Read the analysis of the past decades of concerts for children in Egypt here.

Saturday 27 April at 8pm, at Cairo Opera House main hall

An evening with "Great Miniatures" will invite audiences to the works by Ravel's Pavane pour une infante défunte (Pavane for a Dead Princess), Saint-Saëns' Havanaise for Violin and Orchestra in E Major, op 83; Chausson's Poème for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 25 and Respighi's Fontanedi Roma (Fountains of Rome).

The Cairo Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Ahmed El-Saedi with violin soloist Salma Sadek.

El-Saedi was the Cairo Symphony Orchestra's assistant conductor (1991-1993), and then principal conductor and artistic director (1993-2003), years during which the orchestra was lifted to the highest artistic ranks and its tours were well received by international audiences.

In 2012, El-Saedi founded the Egyptian Sinfonietta, a chamber orchestra operating under the Egyptian Philharmonic Society (EPS), an NGO which he heads, aiming to contribute to the musical life of Egypt outside governmental institutions. Read more about Ahmed El-Saedi and Sinfonietta here.

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