El Tanboura – Photo courtesy of the Cairo Opera House’s official Facebook page El Tanboura – Photo courtesy of the Cairo Opera House’s official Facebook page

Celebrating three decades of folk band El Tanbura

Fri, Nov. 24, 2017
CAIRO – 24 November 2017: On December 8, El Tanbura, an Egyptian traditional folk band, will celebrate its 29th birthday at the Cairo Opera House. The event is organized by El Mastaba Center for Egypt Folk Music.

Joining the band is a group of students from El Mastaba’s arts education program, who will also perform traditional folk music and show Egyptian cultural heritage spanning across generations.

Based in Port Said, El Tanbura is an Egyptian traditional folk band formed by Zakaria Ibrahim. Made up of traditional musicians, singers, fishermen, and Sufi philosophers, the group will perform some of Egypt’s oldest folk songs.

According to El Mastaba Center for Egyptian Folk Music, a specific traditional musical instrument, the “simsimeyya”, played a part in the resistance movement in the years after the Suez Crisis. In the aftermath of the war of 1967, exiles of Port Said would sing nostalgic folk songs that used the “simsimeyya” for their melodies.

When Zakaria Ibrahim returned to Port Said in 1980 after exile, he found that the old methods and the “simsimeyya” had been abandoned in favor of more commercial bands. Ibrahim spent years searching for the old masters of traditional Sufi folk music, trying to reconnect with them and encourage the revival of the old traditional; their nostalgic folk songs characterize the history of resistance of the people of Port Said.

El Mastaba Center for Egypt Folk Music is a cultural institution that helps promote traditional Egyptian arts; from space renting to educational workshops, its mission is to “pioneer social change through the arts.”
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