BEIRUT: The doors closed. Mumbles and giggles turned to utter silence. At the very end of the hall, shadows appeared on stage. Musical notes shortly started transcending from the musicians' instruments.
Welcome to Oriental Breezes, you may now enjoy the ride.
The American University of Beirut hosted Wednesday the Oriental Breezes performance, the first concert of the AUB Zaki Nassif Music Program in 2019.
The approximately two-hour long performance transported AUB’s Assembly Hall into the golden age of oriental music. With the help of 25 musicians and 30 choir members from the program’s Arabic Ensemble, the voyage incorporated various stops on the major composers and compositions of different musical eras.
“We have done something similar to the concept of Oriental Breezes almost 10 years ago but, on a much smaller scale,” Nabil Nassif, Ph.D., Director of the AUB Zaki Nassif Program for Music, told Annahar. “Today’s concert was definitely much more advanced in terms of quality and production.”
Conducted by retired General Georges Herro, and in collaboration with the night’s guest star Jihad Akl, violinist, and composer, the audience was drawn onto the historical thread of Arabic music: From Mohammed Abdel Wahab and Umm Khulthum, to the Rahabni Brothers and Zaki Nassif, attendees were allowed to experience the differences in the music of each stage and the ways in which the former has evolved.
“The concert incorporated a mix of Lebanese and Egyptian songs and aimed to cover some of the forgotten histories of oriental music,” Nassif explained.
Attendees of all ages and backgrounds filled the venue’s seats and as the music started enveloping the space, many of the audience began to tap and clap their way into the beats of the music while others swayed to its rhythms.
“The importance of such concerts lies in the imprint they leave in the minds of those who attend,” Nassif said while stressing on the importance of encouraging young people to participate in the event and learn about their musical heritage.
The Zaki Nassif Music Program was launched in 2004 as a tribute to the life of Lebanon’s composer Zaki Nassif. With the aim of preserving and promoting the musical heritage of the composer and advancing music teaching, the program conducts several concerts, conferences, and competitions throughout the year. The program runs on donations through the “Zaki Nassif Program Friends Club.”
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