Festival of Arabic music in Abu Dhabi next month

ABU DHABI - The stages of Abu Dhabi are well accustomed by now with top western composers, orchestras and singers, but, for a change, the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) is planning a tribute to Arabic music.


Silvia Radan

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Published: Tue 29 Apr 2008, 10:08 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:59 PM

From May 1 to May 6, six Arab singers will perform here in the Sounds of Arabia festival, which will also include documentaries about the old and the modern Eastern music.

The festival will be opened by Omar Khairat, a renowned Egyptian composer, whose career took him from playing the classics on grand piano, to a spell on the drums for a jazz band in Cairo and back to the piano. His musical composition for the movie The Night of Fatma's Arrest was the first film score to be released on audio cassette in Egypt, which became a milestone in the music industry in the Middle East.

The second performer will be the fairly young Fayha Choir, conducted by maestro Berker Taslakian, established in 2003 in Lebanon. Its repertoire includes Arabic songs, as well as French, English, Latin and Armenian ones.

Qanoon player Furat Qaddouri from Baghdad is a truly international musician, who played, established bands and taught music in Iraq, Jordan, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. His fusion style, which will be heard on the third day of the festival, is much influenced by the rich musical heritage of cultures from various parts of the world.

Qaddouri's performance will be followed by another fusion duo, Moroccan oudist Tarik Banzi and flamenco guitarist Julia Banzi, whose music is a mixture of classical Arabic, Latino and Flamenco compositions.

Lebanese singer Jahida Wehbe will bring quite a different style of Arabic music the following night, as she is known for classical, Sufi and even patriotic songs.

The festival will conclude with a performance by Farida Mohammed Ali, famous for reviving the Iraqi Maqam music.

She performs with the Iraqi Maqam Ensemble, which was established in 1989 in Baghdad by Mohammed Gomar.

Lectures, workshops and documentary screenings will also be part of Sounds of Arabia, which aims not only to present great music, but also to explain the making of Arabian music and what sets it apart.

"Encompassing a history of more than 2,000 years, the music of Arabs is unique among the world's various cultures. Based on a modal tone system, it is characterised by the maqam phenomenon, an original type of improvisation that is common to both secular and sacred Arabian music," said Isadora Papadrakakis, manager at the art department of ADACH.

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