Lebanese musicians honor their nation in a somber but hopeful concert

Daily News Egypt
4 Min Read

CAIRO: Last night at the Cairo Opera House Lebanese musicians sang of love, suffering and change at a benefit concert entitled Beirut Won’t Cry. The meaningful performances were meant to signal the Lebanese people’s ability to rebuild their country after the destruction left by the Israeli aggression. Four weeks of air strikes tore apart clinics, schools, bridges, roads and factories, and caused a major oil spill.

The event began with a short film reflecting on conflict and peace, setting the tone for the evening’s songs. The Upper Egypt Choir, which sang a rendition of a Marcel Khalife classic, Salamun Alayki, gave an upbeat prelude and ended their performance with a message of patriotism in Hay Ali Baladna, during which they exhibited their well-known stick choreography. The songs were dedicated to the Lebanese children.

Then Lebanese singer-composer Tania Saleh took to the stage with her band and treated the audience to a mix of Oriental and Western instrumentations. Saleh sings of society, disillusion, and identity. Her song Ya Leil Ya ‘Ein speaks of how youth have become influenced by Western ideas. In Al Jil Al Jadeed, Saleh challenges the current generation to find meaning in life through respect and hard work. The Sorbonne-educated artist has been praised in the Lebanese music scene for her fresh tunes and relevant lyrics, as well as her sophisticated musical arrangements.

If Saleh is the new voice calling for rebellion and change, Samy Hawwat is the veteran songwriter who rocked the boat through his political activism. Known in Lebanon for his songs about the civil war, Hawwat captivated the audience with his nationalistic lyrics and popular melodies.

“Since your grave became my country, I will not leave, he sang. The lyrics came from Lebanese poet Rasan Matar’s eulogy to his daughter, who was killed in the civil war. Hawwat also composed music for the defiant verses of Egyptian poet Bayram Al-Tunisi: “Why should I go barefoot, when I’m the one making your shoes? Why should I stay naked while I am the one making your beds?

Hawwat’s singing and oud-playing were accompanied by a riq, kanoun and a saxophone, creating a belligerent but soothing sound. His statements expressing tacit support for the resistance drew cheers from the audience. “Many do not take risks, but one percent stand to fight for the Lebanese, his song Rai Il Am conveyed.

The concert’s finale brought to the stage Lebanese diva Jahida Wehbe, whose presence undoubtedly filled the auditorium. She gave a rendition of Fayrouz’s Akhidni, and sang the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish and Gunter Grass. Wehbe’s rich and expressive voice, accompanied by a mix of piano, violins, kanoun, and other Oriental instruments, was a forceful ending to a night honoring Lebanon.

Egyptian film stars Ahmed El-Sakka, Menna Shalaby, Basma and Khaled Saleh also graced the evening, giving somber commentaries about the conflict and introducing the artists.

The main hall of the opera house was filled with an audience of Egyptians, Lebanese and other foreigners, who showed great appreciation for the performances. All revenues from the concert will go to the Higher Relief Commission of the Lebanese Cabinet, via the Lebanese embassy.

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