Tango, salsa and rumba are not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Egypt. Typically the sensual nature of the music, the dance styles, and its affinity for stringed instruments flies in the face of such a largely conservative society.
Nevertheless, as I made my way to the Opera House’s open air theatre a light breeze carried with it the unmistakable sound of a violin, its bow making a mad dash back and forth across the strings sending out a fast- paced melody.
Closing your eyes for a moment, you could hear the music’s desperate call. If you listened longer you may begin to understand the music rushing from every instrument, competing for its place in the composition.
There was the violin, paving the way for the others to follow; the bass, resigning itself to a whisper; the drums, always striving to outdo the others; and finally the piano, frantically weaving itself around the others, holding them together. These songs told stories; stories of love, grief, celebrations… every note that rung out, a novel in itself to be explored.
Re-opening my eyes I see those around me as enthralled as I – a young couple shift closer to each other as the melody takes a dark turn telling tales of a lover’s sorrow. Unknowingly we all find ourselves tapping away to the rhythm, each person hearing a story which is their own. Such is the beauty of music, a common language shared by all.
Friday’s performance by the Sweet Sound Band was much better than I had expected, and with good reason, the group was founded in 1974 and has been playing on and off ever since. One of the co-founders of the group, Dr. Mounir Nasr El Din, is a seasoned violinist and violin professor at the American University in Cairo. His title comes from his PhD in music attained in Russia.
The Sweet Sound Band is a definite must for those of us out there who find ourselves entranced by the sweet serenade of music. They play because they love music and their audience is equally appreciative. They are scheduled to play again on 7 August, so if you seek music that stirs the soul, look no further.