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Voyage Symphonique Celebrates Arab Music With Full French Orchestra

The concert saw the fusion of golden era Arab classics with a French orchestra conducted by Egyptian maestro Mostafa Fahmy.

Patrick Davies

Voyage Symphonique Celebrates Arab Music With Full French Orchestra

On May 5th, Egyptian maestro and violinist Mostafa Fahmy led a full French orchestra of over 60 musicians for Voyage Symphonique, with a repertoire of classical Arabic tunes reproduced by Syrian singer Lena Chamamyan. The one-night event, which took place at Paris’ 200-year old Théâtre du Gymnase, aimed to engage in a music dialogue beyond language, reprising a classical Arabic repertoire of golden age music by Abdel Halim Hafez, Warda, Mohamed Abdel Wahab and Dalila.

“I live in France, but I have my Arab heritage, so this was always a natural dream for me,” Fahmy tells CairoScene. “It’s been a long-time goal of mine to transport people to this era of the Arab world through music, since I moved to France in 2011.” The concert’s repertoire includes tracks spanning decades of Arabic-language classics, selected personally by the maestro. “I chose songs that remind me of home, songs that I listened to when I was feeling lonely or homesick. I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite!”

Though the emphasis of the concert was on the concept itself - the marriage of Arabic arias with a classic French orchestra - singer Lena Chamamyan naturally captured the spotlight with effortless renditions of a rich mix of songs. “It’s really important that we encourage and enjoy the fusion of music from different cultures,” Chamayman says. “It was great to see such a mixed audience at the concert, not only Arabic speakers. This is the kind of music where understanding the language is secondary; you can innately understand the feeling behind each song.”

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