‘Music: Hope & Life’ endorsing significance to disability arts



Wed, 28 Feb 2018 - 05:13 GMT


Wed, 28 Feb 2018 - 05:13 GMT

Orchestra Al Nour Wal Amal performing at “Music: Hope & Life” as audiences with different abilities watch

Orchestra Al Nour Wal Amal performing at “Music: Hope & Life” as audiences with different abilities watch

CAIRO – 28 February 2018: In light of celebrating Egypt’s “Year of Disabilities” in 2018, the Council for Music, Opera, and Ballet affiliated to the Supreme Council of Culture has launched a multi-disciplinary orchestral performance “Music: Hope and Life” on Monday at El Hanager Arts Center, gathering several artists and audiences with disabilities who enlighteningly shared their simple values of art.

Organized by the council, the event was a collaborative project led by the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Culture Hatem Rabee, and head of the Council for Music, Opera, and Ballet Rasha Tamoum who prefers to refer to the participating performers as artists with “special abilities” instead of “disabilities”.

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Orchestra Al Nour Wal Amal gearing up for the concert – Egypt Today/Fatma Khaled

Organizers also included playwright Mohamed Abdelhafez, member of the string ensemble Awtar Quartet, and a recently appointed member of the Council for Music, Opera, and Ballet, Khaled Saleh, who organized the events’ segments along with Hala Fouad.

Inaugurating the one-day event, a troupe of blind children called “The Bells Ensemble” who are associated with “Al Nour Wal Amal” Association have played famous children music pieces such as “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” using only bells followed by an orchestral performance that was carried out by the renowned and internationally recognized “Al Nour Wal Amal” (Light and Hope) Orchestra for Blind Women, conducted by maestro Mohamed Saad Basha.

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The children “The Bells Ensemble” – Egypt Today/Fatma Khaled

Saleh, an ambitious young musician who has accompanied Awtar Quartet throughout their journeys in spreading classic music among different socio-economic classes, poor schools and neighborhoods, has been teaching the women in Al Nour Wal Amal orchestra and felt that they needed more local exposure; thus, he helped in rendering them the highlight of the event.

Women within the orchestra are well known for playing their instruments without music notes. The show was accompanied by a visual part through an exhibition of paintings and drawings created by students with disabilities enrolled in Faculty of Specific Education at Cairo University.

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The children “The Bells Ensemble” – Egypt Today/Fatma Khaled

“Al Nour Wal Amal” orchestra is among the unique orchestras worldwide that have proved that disabilities don’t deprive anyone from the right to perform and express their talents. The repertoire of this orchestra is memorized and preserved; those women don’t need a conductor to guide them but rather make them feel the beat of their works,” Tamom told Egypt Today.

A former violinist at Al Nour Wal Amal orchestra, Mervat Shagar, told Egypt Today that its important to highlight this distinguished purpose of the event saying: “Creating an interactive communication between public audiences despite their abilities, gender, age, social status, and ethnicity.”

Orchestra Al Nour Wal Amal – Egypt Today/Fatma Khaled

Shagar now plays Arabic music through her violin at Sayed Darwish Academy after quitting the orchestra following the death of the renowned orchestra’s founder Ali Osman who used to drive her from Haram to Masr El Gedida to attend rehearsals and performances.

The invited audiences were a compilation of many factions in society including other associations catering different types of disabilities; thus acting as a two way communication platform according to Tamom, emphasized the right of disabled communities to not only perform arts but also perceive and understand arts.

“We meant to seat the children on the floor as the orchestra played the music compositions so they would feel the different vibrations arousing from the music instruments passing on to the floor and penetrating into their bodies, giving them the chance to sense the music if they’re deaf, mute, or mentally disabled,” Saleh enthusiastically explained to Egypt Today.

Among the music compositions performed were “Bolero” by French composer Maurice Ravel, works by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, “Turkish March” by Mozart, “Waltz” and “Sleeping Beauty” by Tchaikovsky, and “Carmen” by French composer George Bizet.

“These compositions were specifically chosen for this concert to highlight an interactive dialogue between the orchestra and the audiences attending in aims to explain the elements of orchestral instruments and its components as well as the elements of music such as the different sounds produced by each instrument,” conductor Mohamed Saad Basha told Egypt Today.

Orchestra Al Nour Wal Amal – Egypt Today/Fatma Khaled

Between each music piece played by the orchestra and the other, Basha and Saleh simplified the elements of music and the types of instruments that make up an orchestra in a short seminar to disabled children among the audiences who eagerly paid attention in understanding the deeper effects of music.

“When the message of life and hope is successfully delivered through music to children or people with other types of disabilities then that confirms the fact that a disabled person is not missing anything but in fact he/she is adding something to us and the community,” Tamom pointed out.

She further explained that the event sends a message to Egyptians that everyone has “special abilities” and music in specific provides a chance to explore and express those abilities that identify one’s inner self, hence directing these talents, adding that “since 2018 is the year of disabilities we are sending a message that music and art is a human right to everyone despite their obstacles,” Tamom told Egypt Today.

Saleh also stated that disabled audiences need to be exposed to more content and visuals to understand the value of art and their right to receive it. “Many of the children’s parents attending asked us where they can enroll their children to learn music and singing,” he added.

Art works by students with disabilities enrolled in Faculty of Specific Education at Cairo University

“I believe that we along with the state’s efforts should tackle the needs of people with severe disabilities and autism through designing specific music educational programs and tailored concerts targeted for them,” Saleh said.

Hoping to cooperate with orchestra El Barae’m in the near future, Tamom also pointed out the deep influence of music in changing people’s lives which was the sole purpose of “Music: Hope and Life” event.

The children “The Bells Ensemble” – Egypt Today/Fatma Khaled

She elaborated that music is not only a positive energy prevailing across audiences but also is capable of changing societal situations. “In Venezuela, music was able to resolve poverty and decrease the number of crime. An ambitious activist/musician, José Antonio Abreu established music schools in 1975 in the very poor neighborhoods of Venezuela called ‘El Sistema’.”

El Sistema is a school that first taught 2,000 children and is now teaching millions according to Tamom; graduating young orchestras that toured the world in performances adding different color of music, and reduced crime in the country.

The Council of Music, Opera, and Ballet carries many ideas in store awaiting execution including touring schools and universities as they aim to showcase interactive musical performances and explaining to school students geographical areas and heritage value in Egypt through the elements of music produced in each governorate/city, according to Tamom.



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