Al-Ahram Weekly Online
1 - 7 November 2001
Issue No.558
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Current issue | Previous issue | Site map

Tuning in

THE 10TH Cairo Arab Music Festival is to open today and will continue for 10 days, Ratiba El-Hefni, the director of the festival, announced last week.

The programme includes 21 concerts at four venues: Cairo Opera House Main Hall, Cairo Opera House Small Hall, the Gomhouria Theatre and the Conference Centre in Alexandria. Participating are 26 singers and 15 troupes from 10 Arab countries: Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Libya, Morocco, Kuwait, Tunisia, Bahrain and Iraq. Highlights include Ghada Ragab, Abdalla El- Ruwaishid, Sabah Fakhri, the Sabreen troupe (featuring Kamilya Jubran), Omar Khairat, Naseer Shamma and the Babel Heritage Troupe.

The festival will honour the late singer Laila Murad. The festival symposium this year explores two musical topics: improvisation in Arab music, and folk children's songs throughout the Arab World. On the fringe, a dor competition will be held in tribute to this old and popular song form. Contestants will be required to perform Add Mahebak (As Much As I Love You) by Mohamed Osman and Ana Hawiet (I Have Loved) by Sayed Darwish. The festival also incorporates an exhibition of Arabic calligraphy.

The opening ceremony is planned to feature a large-scale operetta, composer Helmi Bakr, a member of the festival's preparatory committee, announced. Entitled Kulina Benkamel Ba'd (Together We Complete Each Other), the libretto is by vernacular poet Sayed Hegab and the music is by Bakr. No less than 19 singers -- including Fakhri, El- Ruwaishid and Nabil Shu'aib -- will perform in his or her local vernacular. The second part of the opening ceremony will feature performances by the popular singer Medhat Saleh, pianist Amr Selim and the Abdel-Halim Nuwiera Troupe, conducted by Salah Ghubashi.

Festival reshuffle

EARLIER this week actor Hussein Fahmi announced his resignation as director of the Cairo International Film Festival. Fahmi explained his decision was due in part to the Ministry of Culture's inadequate funding of the festival. It is not clear who will succeed him.

Fahmi was appointed director in 1997, following the death of Saadeddin Wahba. The silver jubilee of the festival, which ended last week, was widely regarded as a disappointment by both critics and the cinema- going public.

Narrative awards

MINISTER of Culture Farouk Hosni hands out the prizes of the 2000 Novel and Short Story Competition on Monday, in an event organised by Nadi Al-Qisa, the Story Club, an organisation that promotes the writing of fiction.

In the category of novel, science fiction writer Salaheddin Ma'ati received both the first prize (LE1,500) and the third prize (LE800), for Al-Salmaniya and Al-Kawkab wal Ganna (The Planet and Paradise), respectively. The second prize went to Abdel- Fattah Ahmed Mursi for his recent fictional account of the lives of Kurds in northern Iraq.

Hani Qutb Rifa'i received the first prize in the short story category for Risala Ila Amoun (A Message to Amen).

Poetic trophies

THE CAIRO Sheraton hosted the closing ceremony of the Mecca Poet Competition. Present to hand out the prizes were Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni and Shiekh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, the founder of the prize and the head of the Yamani Cultural Institution.

The poetry prize was shared by Ismail Mustafa El-Saifi, from Egypt, and Hassan Abdalla Al-Qurashi, from Saudi Arabia, for the poetry collections Malhamat Iman (Epic of Faith) and Satair Al-Matar (Curtains of Rain), respectively. Syrian scholar Walid Mushawwah and Saudi scholar Abdalla Ibn Ahmed Al-Faifi received the criticism prize for Al-Mawt fil Shi'r Al-Arabi Al-Mu'asir (Death in Contemporary Arabic poetry) and Al-Soura Al-Basariya fi Shi'r Al-'Imyan (Visual Imagery in the Poetry of the Blind).

Music elsewhere

THE 10TH Bahrain Music Festival, which ended last week, saw a wide range of music performed, from the Bahraini heritage to the latest in worldwide trends. Among Arab countries represented were Jordan, Kuwait and Egypt, while music from India, Turkey and Europe occupied a central place in the festival's programme.

The Bahrain Arabic Music Group, founded in 1979, conducted by Egyptian maestro Ahmed Abdel-Latif Badr, presented many forms of Arab music; while the National Jordanian Music Institute, conduced by Mohamed Osman Seddiq, offered a series of stunning solo performances, presenting works inspired by both Jordanian and Bahraini heritage in an attempt to supply the audience with a new, hybrid and innovate genre; one example of the latter being Concerto for Nai and Orchestra, written by Seddiq and featuring a solo performance by Hassan El-Faqir. The same concert also featured the Jordanian singer Qamar Badwan, winner of the golden prize in the 2000 Cairo Song Festival.

The National Kuwaiti Music Group, conducted by Ahmed Hamdan El-Harbi, offered a selection of Kuwaiti folk music while the Tarab Zaman Group sought to recreate the Egyptian musical scene of the 1920s an 1930s to remarkable effect. Supervised by Ratiba El-Hefni, the concert revived the singing styles of Mounira El-Mahdiya, Saleh Abdel-Hayy, Sayed Darwish, Mohamed Abdel-Wahab and Umm Kulthoum.

A rare occasion

THE AMERICAN Academy informed the Egyptian Shu'a' production company that filmmaker Dawoud Abdel-Sayed's last feature, Ard Al-Khawf (Land of Fear), starring Ahmed Zaki, has been accepted in the foreign films competition for the 74th Oscars. Abul-Qasem Omar Rageh, the general manager of Shu'a', expressed delight at the decision.

"This news increases my confidence in our productions, especially since this is one of the rare occasions on which an Egyptian film has been chosen to participate in the Oscars. This," he added, "reflects the artistic value of Egyptian film, and the ability of its makers to make a worldwide impression." Rageh also thanked the Catholic Centre, which nominated Ard Al-Khawf.

Compiled by Youssef Rakha

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