Independent Combo brings three young female talents to the stage

Rowan El-Shimi, Thursday 15 Mar 2012

Rawabet Theatre hosts three talented girls for a night of music in the Independent Combo performance series

Aya Mostafa Performing (Photo: Kareem Hammam)

The Independent Combo, which took to Rawabet's stage in a series of shows in January, is back with a show by three young female musicians after a break due to the Port Said events, bringing contemporary music back to the downtown space.

On Wednesday, 14 March, Rawabet hosted Aya Mostafa (guitar and vocals), Yousra El-Hawary (accordion and vocals) and May Walid (electric guitar and vocals). Each of the girls sang a set. At the end of each performance they sung duets. The show ended with a song performed by all three, with their instruments and different vocal styles complementing each other, leaving the audience wowed.

"Since we're all starting out, we were each dependent on each other's audience," El-Hawary told Ahram Online. "Plus, we're all girls, and we sing about personal issues so we had that in common."

The performances each had a different feel and style, but the transition from each to the other went smoothly. From Mostafa's strong voice and moving lyrics, to El-Hawary's natural stage presence and audience engagement, to Walid's light hearted music, the show was a great success.

The audience engaged with each of the performers, especially since each of the young musicians was partly using music to challenge society's stereotype of Egyptian girls.

The idea of the Independent Combo is that a series of shows is entirely funded by audience participation. No sponsors and no foundations. With a variety of performances. like live music, choirs, theatrical performances and storytelling, the Independent Combo brings a number of flavours to the stage.

"We developed the project on volunteer efforts," Salam Yousry, the organiser of Independent Combo, told Ahram Online. Yousry is also the founder of El-Tamyy Theatre Group and the Choir Project (previously Cairo's Complaints Choir). Yousry was keen to bring the girls on stage and build them an audience. He decided to take care of all the logistical details of the performance, to pave the road for them to showcase their talents.

The programme started in January with the Choir Project performance, where a group performed selected songs from different workshops held over the past two years. The idea of the Choir Project is that interested individuals come together, talk, brainstorm and engage with each other on current issues being faced by Egyptians, whether on a political, social or cultural level. After that they develop the music for the workshop and perform it together — a choir of a few dozen people of various ages, genders and musical experience before an audience willing to listen and sing along.

"You don't need to be a musician to participate in the project," the organisers often tell people. They encourage anyone interested to respond to the open calls and to participate.

After the Choir Project, the project presented the debut performance of "Time of Shadows" by the Dialogue for Independent Theatre Group on 1 Feburary. However, due to the Port Said football tragedy, the rest of the programme was postponed until now.

The next performance of the project will be the street performance outside of Rawabet, "Revolution of Colours" by El-Khayal El-Shaabi Group on Sunday, 18 March. Then there will be "Mad Wa Gazr" (High Tide and Low Tide), the eighth theatrical musical production by the renowned El-Tamyy Group on Monday and Tuesday, 19-20 March. The project will finish up with a musical performance by Syrian band Tangaret Daght on Wednesday, 21 March.

There will be another set of performances organised by the Independent Combo in April.

"When independent musicians collaborate it makes us stronger," Yousry affirms.


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