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Egyptian bands perform at the Citadel

The yearly Fête de la Musique was celebrated by a free concert at the famous Cairo landmark

Traditional Egyptian music in a modern form enticed audiences during La Fête de la Musique  (Photo by Fanny Ohier)
Traditional Egyptian music in a modern form enticed audiences during La Fête de la Musique
(Photo by Fanny Ohier)

By Fanny Ohier

On Thursday 20 June the Salah Al-Din Citadel provided the backdrop for “La Fête de la Musique,” or World Music Day, organised and sponsored by the French Institute. The concert is a yearly tradition, hosted by French cultural centres all over the world on the longest day of the year. The programme presented to the Cairene audience this year featured exclusively Egyptian bands: Darwasha, Salalem and the Egyptian Project.

La Fête de la Musique provides free access to music for its audiences, as well as publicity for the performing musicians. It showcases a variety of musical styles, by both famous and up-and-coming artists. In previous years Souad Massi, Sergent Garcia and Bernard Lavilliers have performed in Cairo during the celebrations. Additionally, as a part of the Cairo celebrations this year, a classical concert was organised in the Cairo Opera House on 22 June and in Alexandria two contemporary Egyptian bands performed on Thursday, followed by a DJ concert on Saturday.

The free entrance to the concert at the Citadel last Thursday, as well as the very different musical styles of the performing bands, attracted a widely varied audience, from families to groups of teenage friends, and everything in between.

The programme started with an energetic performance by The Darwasha Project, which set the tone for the rest of the evening. The band plays progressive Arabic rock metal music mixed with electronic sounds, and was founded about a year ago with Mohamed Darwish as its driving force. The Darwasha Project finds their inspiration in theatre musicals and their unique style and unconventional music has garnered quite a following.

The second band that took to the stage was Salalem, who performed their indie-pop with contagious and joyful energy. The six musicians entertained the crowds with their usual friendliness and sarcastic lyrics, and when they played their most popular songs the audience enthusiastically sang along. At the end Salalem’s lead singer playfully engaged the audience before leaving the stage under a salvo of applause.

The French-Egyptian band the Egyptian Project concluded the night. Their mix between Egyptian instruments and electronic music was very much appreciated by the slightly older segment of the audience and those passionate about traditional Egyptian music.

Judging by the response of the crowd, the evening was a great success.  Although the music enjoyed on this World Music Day was mostly contemporary, the breathtaking view of Islamic Cairo from the illuminated Citadel gave the evening a taste of experiencing a moment suspended in time.

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