Helping through song

Maram Mazen
3 Min Read

Band’s message: Hold on to Arab identity

CAIRO: Different groups choose different ways to express their solidarity with Lebanon. While some choose protesting in the streets, others choose to express themselves by organizing cultural events.

The Li-Beirut (for Beirut) campaign organized a cultural event with the aim of providing aid to Lebanon on Wednesday. First on the program was The Misfortunes of Some, a documentary, followed by a musical concert by an Egyptian band, Asil.

The documentary was made in 1982 during the Lebanese civil war. It was directed by Omar Amiralay, with assistant director Yousri Nasrallah.

One of the organizers of the event, Laila Soliman, talked about the film, explaining why it is so special to her.

It s a rare copy that I got by coincidence in Syria. Soliman says the reason they chose to show that particular movie in the campaign is that it s about the Lebanese civil war, a topic that directly relates to the current events in Lebanon. The second reason why she says the movie is special, is that it has been shown only once before in Egypt, at the Ismailia film festival.

Although the movie has direct bearing on the Lebanese situation, Asil s choice of songs weren t based solely on the Lebanese situation.

Instead of focusing simply on Lebanon, Asil chose to focus on the importance of knowing one’s cultural identity when addressing the difficulties of the region. To make their point, they decided to play classical Arabic music.

The group is composed of Amr Sobhi, the rababa player; Mohammed Antar, the nai player, Mostafa Saeed, the ‘oud player and Yehya Abdel Haleem, the vocalist. They say they are trying to send people a message that they should hold on to their Arab identity. It s the same message they try to send at all their concerts.

In his opening speech, 23-year-old Mostafa Saeed said, We offer authentic, classic art, without blindly imitating the West. We won’t be able to address the world without learning about who we are.

Saeed says the reason the band decided to take part in this campaign is the same feeling that all people have for the war, but for Saeed, it was more significant for a very personal reason.

Deeply touched while speaking, he remembers the time he spent in Lebanon when he was learning music. One of the people who had a profound impact on me, and who taught me a lot about music is Dr. Nedaa Abu Mourad. He was the head of the music section in the Antonious Institute at the Antonious University, Saeed says.

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