Director of French Institution in Egypt Mohamed Abdualla speaking in opening ceremony ( Photos by Rehab Ismail & Fatma Khaled)
CAIRO - 18 June 2017: Playing a blend of oriental and jazz music, Egyptian-based marching band Oscarsima Studio lead the crowds at the 6th annual Fête de Musique in Al-Azhar Park in Cairo on Saturday.
This year marks the French Festival’s 35th edition worldwide. The festival was organized by Institut Français d'Égypte (French Institution in Egypt) in cooperation with the Swiss Embassy.
The crowds marched along with the band, who played well-known songs such as “C’est La Vie” by Cheb Khaled and jazz music mixed with oriental beats. The multi-disciplinary music festival features 20 artists from different cultural backgrounds.
The marching band led the audiences from one music scene to another. They stopped for a short 30 minutes to listen to “Talk Box,” a music segment carried out by Swiss band Classik Luvanga and independent Egyptian artists Myam Mahmoud. The performance was meant to break cultural barriers between different languages as well as emphasize a message of freedom and human emotions.
The audiences were later led to a bigger stage that featured the festival’s opening. The director, Mohamed Abdallah, launched the opening ceremony welcoming audiences with Ramadan Kareem, and introduced electro-folk music band Egyptian Project to the stage.
The festival also featured gypsy music performed by French band La Caravane Passe and a solo piano segment by John Greaves.
A unique project will also be introduced for the first time called “Salama and the Young Team” by Fathy Salama. Salama is a Grammy-award winning music producer who combined Egyptian bands such as Sharmoofers, Massar Egbari, Dina El Wedidi, Nathalie Saba, Radek Cais, and Shorkiat Band on one stage.
A new exclusive song was introduced by Salama in collaboration with musician Radek Cais called “Hawasteeny” (You Possessed Me), a love song featuring a blend of English singing by Cais and Arabic words.
Music Producer Fathy Salama (Photo by Rehab Ismail)
“The new song is not only a love song but it also urges people to fight for their dreams and be persistent, it’s a perfect song for Egyptians as it includes Egyptian slang in the lyrics,” Cais told Egypt Today on Saturday.
The festival was also carried out in Alexandria on Sunday along with two performances by Egyptian Project and La Caravane Passe.
“The festival aims to bring all types of music genres to audiences in the streets, depicting freedom, creativity, and diversity worldwide,” Emmanuel Tugny, the cultural attaché of the French Institution in Egypt and the festival’s director, told Egypt Today.
He stated that this year’s edition is different from that of previous years in regards to professionalism and organization. The festival has expanded to Alexandria for the past two years.
One of the main goals for the festival is to break cultural barriers through music and art, according to Tugny.
“We chose to host these foreign bands because they deliver this message of breaking barriers and they know how to work with Egyptian musicians” added Tugny.
He mentioned that the only challenge in organizing this year’s festival is combining a massive audience on the ground and managing many artists on stage.
“Introducing mixed genres on stage help emphasize the main principal behind the festival, which is to bring all types of music to street audiences, which a fixed genre of music could not do” said Tugny.
Citing Plato’s quote, “music is the key of the universe,” Tugny said that music can easily touch a person’s heart and abolish barriers because a person doesn’t need to understand the lyrics as much as they understand the music played.
“What is really special about this festival is that it is international, it helps break cultural boundaries, unlike politics, for example, that creates more barriers,” Greaves told Egypt Today.
Egyptian Project band taking stage (Photo by Fatma Khaled)
Performing a solo piano segment in the festival for the first time in Egypt, Greaves is also a songwriter who stated that his songs don’t require linguistic comprehension. Greaves took on the lead role of the quieter segment of the festival, where he also played a song for the late David Bowie called “Where are we now?”
“I am not a musician with a message, I write about things that are important such as love and life and everything in between. Transmitting emotion and sensitivity which is lacking in this world today, remain some of my goals” added Greaves.
In light of developing the music scene in Egypt, Salama, who have helped well-known Egyptian musicians rise over the past 10 to 15 years, believes that the Egyptian music platform lacks the support of Egyptian government.
British musician John Greaves (Photo by Rehab Ismail) “The government needs to provide more places and venues to host cultural events, as well as financial support,” said Salama.
He believes that this support will cater to the Egyptian audience’s openness to new creations. Salama believes that Egyptians are culturally open-minded and will only advance through being exposed to more art.
A successful long-term tutor, Salama advised rising musicians to take more time in practice before coming on stage.
Swiss band Classik Luvanga
“I think young musicians rush into getting on stage before they’re well prepared to perform as artists; it takes time to be successful. I met with Egyptian singer Dina El Wedidi and Sharmoofers 15 years ago and they weren’t as successful as they are now. It takes dedication and years of practice” added Salama.
Fête de Musique is the last festival being hosted by the French Institution in Egypt this year and will commence cultural events in September.
“The organization is great and I came here to listen to my favorite bands Sharmoofers and Massar Egbari,” 20-years old Yasmin Alaa, one of the festival-goers, told Egypt Today.
Cultural Attache Emmanuel Tugny (Photo by Rehab ismail)