Chitra Kalyani

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Latest by Chitra Kalyani


Gospel joins anasheed at Sufi Fest

Man is the homeland, and the homeland is man.” With this humanistic slogan, Entesar Abd El Fatth, director of El-Ghouri Center for Musical Heritage opens the fourth Samaa International Festival for Sufi Music and Chanting in Cairo on Monday. A variety of anasheed (Islamic religious and praise songs) from around the world are featured in …

Chitra Kalyani

A ‘Byrd’ singing disco of our time

Since marketing his first single when he was 15, electronic artist Neobyrd has figured out the formula. “To get signed you need to spend 40 percent [of your time] doing music, and 60 percent marketing yourself,” said the artist at the launch of his album “Transbyrd” at Cairo Jazz Club on Monday. It was almost …

Chitra Kalyani

No more superheroes: Josh Neufeld keeps it real

Comics are not synonymous with superheroes. American cartoonist Josh Neufeld presents an alternative by telling real life stories through the medium of comics. Presenting his latest work “A.D.: New Orleans after the Deluge,” Neufeld introduced a new kind of book at the Townhouse Library on Saturday. Neufeld’s comics cross into the realm of travelogue and …

Chitra Kalyani

October acrobatics and amusement at CirCairo

Circus at Al-Azhar Park entrance is everything you can imagine it would be: joyfully blaring trumpet music, acrobats, chaos, clowns, crowds, juggling, jostling, screaming, somersaults, a skirmish and some missing children. Launching the CirCairo on the October 6 celebrations, Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy cleverly introduced families entering Azhar Park on the national holiday to the circus festival …

Chitra Kalyani

Bill Clinton outlines necessary global changes in Cairo speech

CAIRO: “It’s an exciting time to be alive,” former US President Bill Clinton said at a talk on social responsibility and philanthropy at the Semiramis Intercontinental on Tuesday. Clinton’s speech, entitled “Embracing Our Common Humanity,” was part of day-long agenda organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt and the UN Development Program, in …

Chitra Kalyani

200 years of Chopin celebrated at the Pyramids

Polish composer Frédéric Chopin’s life may seem like a breath compared to the 5,000-year-old structure of the Pyramids of Khafra (so the stone-faced Sphinx seemed to say). But timeless music filled the life of the child prodigy born in Warsaw, who began composing as early as the age of six. On Wednesday, “Chopin at the …

Chitra Kalyani

The reel life

“If you have a phone,” says Simon Tarr, “you can make a movie.” “The good news,” Sandra Ruch adds, “is that everyone has a camera; the bad news is that not everybody is an artist.” Tarr and Ruch drew from their rich experiences while speaking at Sawy Culture Wheel on Sunday at a lecture organized …

Chitra Kalyani

Beatbox: Sounds like teen spirit

Backward baseball caps bobbed, hands spinning at imaginary discs and mouths sputtering rhythmic beats. At Sawy Culture Wheel’s Beatbox festival on Tuesday night, teenage enthusiasm swelled and spilled over the River Hall. “Beatbox” is an electronic device that imitates percussion sounds. Vocal imitation of these percussion and drum sounds, along with some brass sounds, started …

Chitra Kalyani

They’re not garbage: Zabaleen, Digla help spread peace through music

“If it was a good world, there would be ceasefire everywhere and people would be allowed to go into the conflict zones,” says 19-year-old Soliman El-Ashkar, in commemoration of the Peace One Day initiative. Ashkar and his friends from CISV International — a volunteer organization run by youth aged 15-25 — create public awareness of …

Chitra Kalyani

Cairo’s very own TimeOut guide

Very few sites tipped off the visit of comic book author Jim Lee to Cairo, and to his book signing at Kotob Khan on September 3. And few know of the early murmurs of Andrea Bocelli’s upcoming visit to Cairo. How do people that are in the know, know? “Never reveal your sources,” goes the …

Chitra Kalyani

Emel Mathlouthi: A taste of rebellious world music

“Bulimique — we say in French,” says Emel Mathlouthi, recalling the years when she would gorge on music. “I was discovering all this stuff at the same time,” she says citing influences of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Sheikh Imam and Marcel Khalife. “So it was just like ‘wow!’ It was a pretty strong period in …

Chitra Kalyani

Stranger than fiction: Hugh Miles on “Playing Cards”

 Word gets around in Cairo: that is probably the best and the worst thing about the city. That is how your bawab knows who you’re (secretly) dating, how you find your Arabic teacher, and (if you’re a journalist) how you make your living in Um El-Dunya (mother of the world). And if you are doing …

Chitra Kalyani

Singer of Lore: Macadi Nahhas

Macadi Nahhas is a folklorist. Her songs belong to an age when stories were sung, and life’s traditions were carved in music. Her name, too, has a story attached to it. Nahhas’ father, also a writer and a politician, named her after a poem by Abdal Basit Sufi in his collection “Awraq Khareefiyya” (Autumn Leaves). …

Chitra Kalyani

Songs for change: Reem Talhami

“Ya leili, ah ya leil,” sings Palestinian Reem Talhami, calling the night like many other singers have done to witness all things that pass. Geneina Theater is only half-filled as the performance begins on Friday evening, but Talhami and her accompaniment dressed in an understated black show no sign of uneasiness. The audience, too, gives …

Chitra Kalyani

Tania Saleh: Sugar-coated medicine

Candor distinguishes Tania Saleh and her music from her contemporaries. The biting criticism in her lyrics throws you off-guard, attacking social conventions via sarcastic comments set to sweet melodies. The Genaina Theater is packed on Thursday night to witness her performance that opens Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy’s Ramadan Hayy program. Incongruous to her unconventional music, Saleh appears …

Chitra Kalyani

Geneina hosts Ramadan nights of music

Seven renowned female voices from the Arab world will light up Ramadan nights at the Geneina Theater in upcoming weekends. Starting Aug. 19, the “Hay Program” organized by El-Mawred Al-Thaqafy will kick off with the tangy flavor of Lebanese singer-songwriter Tania Saleh. With lyrics that serve sarcasm on peppy as well as more languid tunes, …

Chitra Kalyani

Believing the invisible: Mime fest in Cairo

Mime is a world in where not hearing and not seeing can still lead to believing. In its sixth year, Sawy’s Mime Festival aims to popularize this elusive, unpopular art form. While Saturday featured many forgettable performances, the second day was filled with pleasant surprises. Mime is the art of portraying a character of story …

Chitra Kalyani

“Liberty” and the talking drum

The rubbery resonant sound of the “talking drum” can sometimes be distinguished over the percussion while Nigerian band Liberty Jazz performs at the River Hall at Sawy Culture Wheel on Friday. Closely imitating the intonations of spoken language, talking drums were once used to convey messages over distances. According to the Yoruba belief system in …

Chitra Kalyani

Dream of the red country

A large Chinese hair ornament is displayed on a screen, greeting the audience at the Cairo Opera House’s performance of one the classics of Chinese fiction, “Dream of the Red Chamber.” An Arabic voiceover reveals the ensuing tale is a tragic love story, and a pair of dancers projected onscreen introduces the fusion of Chinese …

Chitra Kalyani

Armsrock and the art of invisibility

Outside a carpenter’s shop near the Townhouse Gallery lies a white-washed silhouette of a life-size image of a man carrying a heavy bag. The figure is the work of Danish visual artist Armsrock, who observes passersby and illustrates them through life-size images. He then plants these on the environments they would normally be seen, but …

Chitra Kalyani

Hindi Zahra: If music be a tree

Hindi Zahra has an Olympus voice recorder too. “It’s good,” she remarks, right before I begin my interview, adding she uses it to record bits of melodies. Daily News Egypt spoke to the French-Moroccan on the morning of her performance at the Fête de la Musique on Wednesday. The best bits of conversation take place …

Chitra Kalyani

Six Qs with FenMag.com

“Fen” is the Arabic word for “art,” and the driving force of the online zine, FenMag.com. A site that covers “all things Arab, American, and art,” FenMag was co-founded by 20-somethings Seif Hamid and Marwa Helal, themselves budding Arab-American artists. Hamid is a music producer and both founders share a passion for writing. On her …

Chitra Kalyani

Food and music for thought

The Townhouse Gallery factory space was not originally intended as the location of the ongoing “Streets of Cairo” festival. Yet on Sunday — when a peaceful demonstration for the murder of Alexandrian Khaled Saied took place in a nearby quarter — the festival, organized by the Danish-Egyptian Dialogue Institute (DEDI), found itself driven inside a …

Chitra Kalyani

Taking art to the streets

A fusion of colors, sounds and scents promises to lure streetwalkers as Danes and Egyptians run joint workshops in the “Streets of Cairo.” Starting June 10, the 10-day event organized by the Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute (DEDI) will feature joint workshops between 24 artists, musicians and chefs. The event will make its way into the …

Chitra Kalyani

Cairo at the end of a long walk

“One long walk through Cairo” is how Amira Hanafi describes her project “Alatool: Straight Ahead, Always.” On Tuesday evening, the artist gave a presentation at Artellewa gallery of the images and text she collected during her walks spanning four months in the city. She hopes to collate the documents and publish them in a book. …

Chitra Kalyani

Alef: Not first, but here to stay

A large sign of the Arabic letter “Alef” graces the entrance of the bookstore that opened its branch in Zamalek last Friday. Shades of desert-dune yellows provide a cool interior offset with Arabesque motifs. Despite its low ceilings, the inside of this bookstore is a comfortable place to wander through. Upstairs, one of the charms …

Chitra Kalyani

Too black, too Brit: Zephaniah's answer

Rastafarian poet Benjamin Zephaniah wears it all on his sleeve: his politics, his veganism, and his dreadlocks. And he talks about it in a grammar and spelling all his own. Kicking off Thursday evening at the Geneina Theater, the British-born Zephaniah delivers “Dis Poetry,” with a Jamaican accent. “For the uninformed,” he tells his audience, …

Chitra Kalyani

In two minds about Zweiland

Dance performance “Zweiland” — meaning “Twin Lands” — would definitely have had more resonance in Berlin where it was first staged in 1997. Since then, it has made its run around the world in various locations, including Cuba where it received the Villanueva Prize for being among the most important presentations last year. “Zweiland,” is …

Chitra Kalyani

Dhafer Youssef: the electric Sufi

The guards at the Azhar Park advise you not to waste another LE 5 if you don’t already have a ticket to the Geneina Theater concert inside – it’s sold out, they tell you. Outside the open-air Geneina venue, people are scouting locations to catch a glimpse of the Dhafer Youssef performance. Inside, the theater …

Chitra Kalyani

When the streets have a name

It’s that fabled street on which stars have fallen, if only for a night. At Sawy Culture Wheel on Thursday, literary and musical notables – the Haddad and Jaheen families – are assembled together as the “Al Share’ (Street) group. The evening entitled “El Watan Wahed (The Nation is One) is dedicated to the work …

Chitra Kalyani