Art connoisseurs weary of the impending football World Cup mania are in for a treat this week. Along with the Streets of Cairo festival, cultural spots across Egypt is hosting a brand new festival called The Artbeat.
The Artbeat Festival — which kicked off on June 10 — offers up “music, art and craft for everyone,” celebrating creativity and diversity by showcasing different types of music, arts and crafts from Europe and the Middle East.
Events will be held in four locations: Cairo Jazz Club, Darb 1718, El-Geneina Theater, and the Roman Theater in Minya. Here’s a preview of what’s on offer:
German artists Robert Fischer and Zaebo (or Zaebo & Rob, as they go by on MySpace) are teaming up for Artbeat. They offer up loop-based instrumental concoctions hearken back to the upbeat electronic chill of Hotel Costes, drifting towards the dreaminess Air’s Moon Safari with synthesized horn and other acoustic instruments. Besides giving several concerts (catch them at Cairo Jazz Club on Friday, June 11 at 11:15 or at the Roman Theater in Minya at 7:15), the duo will lecture on the art and science of electronic music making, exploring the German origins of electronic sound-creation and the characteristic "German Sound," how this sound is created in a recording studio and how it is performed live.
Spanish group La Banda del Pepo fuses sounds from around the Mediterranean to form an exuberant expression of seaside soul, using artisanally produced instruments of diverse origins. These instruments include the Ba?lama, a mainstay of modern Turkish, Azeri, Kurdish and Persian folk music; the Cümbü?, a modern Turkish instrument resembling an American banjo used by the likes of Pink Floyd and Stone Temple Pilots; and the Bouzouki, a long neck lute heard frequently in modern Greek music.
“For us it’s important to play outside of our own country and give others a taste of the music that we make. We think that it’s very important for the public to have access to this kind of festival, which mixes different kinds of music and totally different cultures,” says Pepo of La Banda Del Pepo. “It’s a window to the world to people who for economic reasons are unable to travel.”
I-Trio is a genre-defying melting pot out of Switzerland, melding elements of jazz, Nu jazz, and rock to produce a bluesy, almost contemplative sound that walks a fine line between a “soft and moony” storyline and “sharp and expressive” epiphanies.
In “A Fula’s Call,” flutist Mark Alban Lotz joins Omar Ka, a West African griot (a storyteller who passes down his tribe’s oral history) to meld the best of European, African and Indian sounds. The group comes to Egypt after tours in Holland, Ukraine, Moldavia, Bulgaria and Russia to lyracize about “truth, honesty, respect, gratitude, happiness, the nomadic life and the walk to Mecca.”
The festival will also showcase top local talent.
The Nile Band, formed over 50 years ago and incorporating many of the best musicians from all over Egypt, will perform Egyptian popular music influenced by the likes of Zakaria El-Hegazy, Soliman Gameel and Abd El-Rahman El-Shafeei.
El Dor El Awal serves up decidedly non-traditional fare, combining various percussion elements — including bongos, congas, kakhon and tabla — with innovative melodies produced by strings, woodwinds, and piano with an electronic twist to produce an eclectic medley hearkening to Eastern European folk and Scandinavian jazz
The folkloric musicians and dancers from El-Warsha Theater-Mallawy Groups will give musical and dance performances showcasing the ancient art of tahtib, an Egyptian martial art form using a wooden stick.
The El-Minia Band will perform folkloric music and dance such as El-Saha and Halb El- Negoum.
Massar Egbari’s alternative Egyptian music addresses social problems and strives to make space for creativity and innovation with mournful, melodic ballads and brain-tickling guitar solos. The band is a regular at music festivals around Europe and Africa as the biennale of young artists from Europe and the Mediterranean in Skopje, Macedonia, Festival Adriatico Mediterraneo in Ancona, Italy, SautiZaBusara Music Festival in Zanzibar, Tanzania and the Occidental Music Competition in Alexandrina, Egypt.
Arts and crafts
The contemporary art exhibition “Uncovered” will explore the complex interrelationship between fashion in the western world and in the Middle East scrutinizing how this reflects society, culture, politics and religion in both locations.
During the festival, various craft workshops for children — including pottery wheel, jewelry, eco art, mosaic with foam, foam modeling and gypsum painting — will be offered at Darb 1718. Workshops will be accompanied with artisanal craft displays showcasing patchwork, woodwork and pottery from.
Workshops and art exhibits will be held at Darb 1718 on Friday, June 11 from 6-10 pm and at the Roman Theater in Minya on Saturday and Sunday, June 12-13 from 9 am-11 pm.
For more information on the festival and a complete schedule of events, visit http://www.artbeatfestival.com/
I-Trio of Switzerland melds elements of jazz, Nu jazz and rock to produce a bluesy, contemplative sound.