Bringing rock ‘n’ roll to underprivileged kids

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Young musicians from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in the United States gave three concerts in Cairo over the weekend.

The concert series, which consisted of two public performances along with an interactive workshop with Egyptian youth, was organized by Yasmin Tayeby, an Egyptian-American Berklee graduate. Tayeby’s nascent company, Nile Promotions, organized the event in cooperation with Events Plus and the US Embassy in Cairo.

Nile Promotions is a division of Nile Engineering focusing on event and concert promotion; their first event was October’s Julio Iglesias concert in partnership with Events Plus.

Tayeby attended Berklee for violin and composition, but her true passion is singing and songwriting, a vocation she is pursuing actively both at home in Cairo and in the US. She has performed at the Pyramids and was featured as a homegrown talent on Cairo’s Nile FM in addition to performing at international music festivals and concerts in the United States.

The concert series featured performances by musicians Zac Taylor, Samantha Preis, Jordan Tarrant and Kris Roche. Although all Berklee students, Tayeby met this group while performing at a music festival in Austin, Texas last summer.

“What these talented musicians were doing was amazing, and I wanted the opportunity to bring something new to the Cairo music scene,” Tayeby said of her decision to pursue this series of events.

“Egyptian youth love rock and roll and the local music scene is great, so I thought bringing the Berklee musicians together with local Egyptian bands could result in something really exciting,” she explained.

The concert series kicked of with a packed event at the Gezira Youth Center on Friday night attended by over 2,000 music enthusiasts. Egyptian bands Degla, Alsawt, Screwdriver, Shadi Ahmed, Crash Boom Bang and Rash Radio, in addition to Yasmin Tayeby and her band, performed with Taylor, Preis, Tarrant and Roche at the concert.

On Saturday morning the Berklee musicians took the Integrated Care Society in Heliopolis by storm, staging an interactive and energetic concert workshop with over 60 underprivileged Egyptian kids, bussed in from Greater Cairo, before performing in the evening at Sawy Culture Wheel.

At the Care Society event, the musicians played for the kids and answered their questions. For Tayeby, seeing how the event impacted the kids made the effort of organizing the visit worth it.

“I opened Nile Promotions originally to try and bring big pop artists to Egypt, but after the workshop with the kids on Saturday, I would really like to try to organize more events like this that enrich children’s lives and bring together cultures,” she said.

Tayeby is currently considering starting a foundation and working with regional US Embassies and Berklee to bring musicians on regional tours where they could give music workshops for kids and stage free public concerts, spreading new ideas and promoting the interaction of American and local music traditions all at once.

Judging from Tayeby’s smashing success in event organization so far, Berklee students and regional music lovers can expect to be enjoying each other’s company sooner than later—bring on the music.


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