Nicolas Latif String Competition (Photo: fragment from poster , courtesy to competition’s official page)
CAIRO- 12 June 2017: A recently launched classical music competition, the Nicolas Latif Strings Competition, is set to launch for the first time and open its doors for applications to Egyptian stringed instrument professionals. The competition will be running October 1-5 at the theater of All The Saints Cathedral in Zamalek.
The competition is created to honor the memory of Nicolas Latif, an Egyptian patriot businessman who was well-known for poetry writings, paintings, sculptures, and for playing Oud.
Latif’s daughter, Mona Latif Ghatas, is an Egyptian-Canadian poet and writer who initiated the idea of establishing the Nicolas Latif Foundation for classical music that would host this competition in October of every year.
“Ghatas wanted to implement an institution under Nicolas Latif’s name this October that will sponsor the competition annually, however was challenged by laws that required her to pay a monthly fee to secure a headquarters, which did not match her budget, and has therefore been postponed,” said Khaled Saleh, a member of the competition’s jury and a second violinist in the Awtar Quarter classical string ensemble.
Despite the obstacles, the competition was established online and will continue to be an annual event amid Ghatas’s efforts to establish the institution. Ghatas is currently in the process of finding a place for the foundation that will also host rehearsals.
The Nicolas Latif Strings Competition seeks to promote classical music played among young Egyptian musicians and invite classical musicians to gather on one platform and compete as they showcase their performances. The deadline for applications is expected to close in August.
Saleh stated that applicants nationwide should send a Youtube video of their performance playing cello or violin, and chosen applicants will move forward to the semi-finals and finals as part of the first phase of the competition. Winners will play in the closing ceremony held on October 12 alongside the Awtar Quartet.
The competition is open to Egyptian violin and cello players who are under 30 years of age, according to the event’s participation protocol on their Facebook page.
The jury is comprised of violinist professor Osman El Mahdy, Mona Latif Ghatas, and the Awtar Quartet.
Cellists and violinists who win the grand prize will win LE 12,500 ($ 700) and will participate in public concerts with the Awtar Quartet, a professional group of classical string musicians based in Cairo.
Other prizes include the best violin and cello and a performed music composition for an Egyptian composer worth LE 3,000 ($ 167).
The selection criteria is meant to match international classical music competition standards, thus applicants are required to be music professionals who have previously studied in music institutions.
“This type of competition is rarely found in Egypt and rarely features these prizes, which will provide a motive for music students to practice more in efforts to be eligible for participation, while participants on the other hand will get a chance of exposure to the public as they stage the theater during the semi-finals and finals,” emphasized Saleh.
He added that winners will also develop following this competition, as they will be given the chance to embark on a joint performance with the Awtar Quartet in upcoming concerts for the ensemble and in the next competition.
The next year’s competition will add another category, targeting Oud musicians, based on Nicolas Latif’s love for Oud; however, this will require adding new members to the jury specializing in Arabic music and Oud performances.