The Baalbeck Festival is “alive” and the mission continues

The president of the Baalbeck Festival, Nayla de Freige, cannot imagine Lebanon stripped of its role as an artistic and cultural center, without the breadth and generosity of the temples of Baalbeck, without the thirst for perpetual creation, in its cultural tradition and in its engagement with young people. For her, considering an art or music festival in these difficult times, where crises follow one another, seems to be a challenge and a kind of cultural resistance, essential for survival. She declares herself happy that the steps of the Temple of Bacchus can once again welcome an in-person audience, these Roman temples of Lebanon, radiating to the world and joining the history of these millenary architectures to the talent of the new generation of Lebanese artists and musicians. “Over the last few years, the Baalbeck International Festival has sought to maintain its role as a cultural beacon, adapting to the restrictions imposed both by the pandemic and the new economic realities of the country”, underlines the president in the press release that replaced the traditional press conference, the latter having been canceled for reasons beyond the control of the festival. “The 2020 and 2021 editions of the festival reached, through their distribution on social networks, more than 17 million views, certainly constituting the most important artistic event ever organized”, recalled Ms. de Freige, also CEO of L’Orient- Le Jour Group.

The “Knights of Culture”

In his speech sent for the launch of the festival, the Minister of Culture, Mohammad Mortada, praised with great gratitude and pride the efforts made by the Baalbeck festival committee, warmly thanking these knights of culture that never stopped. “Happy are the efforts of the Baalbeck festival committee. Happy summer night participants, creators in all fields. Singing, playing and dancing to Eastern and Western music is a hand that Lebanon extends to Europe to embrace beauty. In a lyrical and poetic style, the minister adds: “As birds return to their nests and clouds to their seas, art returns to Baalbeck, to lean on the six pillars, and resound between Bacchus and Jupiter, in the presence of beings alive. and exciting story. “And to add:” As Feyrouz sang so well: “For the seasons to return each summer in the ruins of the Roman temple, a candle on its steps, a rose on its fence, and a drop of oil on its lamp”. »

The Minister of Tourism, Walid Nassar, in turn applauded the initiative, “a new success in the festival’s framework, synonymous with civilization, mixture of cultures and beauty”.

For her part, Tanya Saadé Zeenny, Deputy General Manager of CMA CGM, the festival’s main partner, underlines that “the group decided to further strengthen its presence alongside the festival, to further demonstrate the importance of valuing culture, at a time in which Lebanon is going through a deep economic and social crisis”.

José Quevedo “Bolita”. PhotoDR

Perpetual creation and unwavering commitment

The live opening night of Baalbeck Festival 2022, on July 8, promises to be festive with tarab, traditional folk songs and many songs known to the general public on the programme. To revive the richness of traditional Lebanese music, the festival chose one of Lebanon’s most authentic voices, that of singer Soumaya Baalbaki. Conductor Loubnan Baalbaki will conduct an orchestra of more than 35 musicians accompanied by the choir of Notre-Dame de Louaïzé. A key figure in the independent Arab music scene, the Adonis quartet, a Lebanese indie-pop group known for their iconic Arabic texts and breathtaking live performances, will take the stage on Sunday, July 10th. Formed in 2011 by Anthony Khoury (vocals, keyboards) and Joey Abou Jawdeh (guitar), the duo was later joined by Nicolas Hakim on drums and Gio Fikany on bass. Stouh Adonis (2012), the dance track that tells stories of nighttime adventures on the rooftops of the group’s small suburban town that won the hearts of thousands of passionate and devoted fans, is the group’s first single. The quartet’s notoriety, however, crossed borders. The group has performed at major venues and independent festivals across the Arab world, such as the Roman Amphitheater in Amman, the Beirut Holidays Festival and the Step Festival in Dubai. Adonis has also composed for Unicef, Netflix, Pepsi, Lipton, TV Globo in Brazil and the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism. In January 2021, for the release of their fifth studio album A’da, the band received critical acclaim. Adonis will meet his audience in Baalbeck, on the steps of the temple of Bacchus, for an exceptional performance where the four young members of the group reveal, for the first time, unreleased tracks from their new album. The festival, until tonight, continues its mission to encourage young Lebanese talent.

Jacopo Baboni Shilling. Photo DR

Guitarist, flamenco composer and music producer, José Quevedo “Bolita” started playing guitar at age 14 with masters such as José Angel Lupion, Manuel Lozano “El Carbonero” and José Luis Balao, and led the flamenco scene for many years. For the first time in Lebanon as part of the festival, at the Acropolis of Baalbeck, he will present his show Caótico Trío, an adaptation of his award-winning grand concert Caótico, on July 11, in collaboration with the Spanish Embassy. Perfectly combining the most traditional flamenco with the sounds of jazz, José Quevedo’s show “Bolita” promises a great night of flamenco-jazz.

Loubnan Baalbaki. Photo DR

José Quevedo “Bolita” will be accompanied by artists Rafael de Utrera on “cante” and Carlos Merino on percussion. For the festival, this evening is part of the tradition of cultural exchanges with the West. On the occasion, the Spanish ambassador to Lebanon, Jesus Santos Aguado, said he hoped the festival audience would enjoy Bolita’s performance, whose career was marked by the Giraldillo Prize at the Seville Biennale of Flamenco.

Soumaya Baalbaki. Photo DR

Franco-Lebanese virtuoso pianist, Simon Ghraichy was a student of Michel Béroff and Daria Hovora at the National Conservatory of Music in Paris and of Tuija Hakkila at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Respected by his peers for his impeccable virtuosity and his sharp musical biases, he was often dubbed the pop star of classical music “because they say he pulls her hair out”. Ghraichy has already performed at the Jeïta grotto in 2014 and notably participated in the show Ilik ya Baalbak designed by Nabil el-Azan in 2015, which went to the Jeu de Paume theater as part of the Aix-en festival. -Provence, before being presented at Baalbeck on the steps of the temple of Bacchus. Accompanied by mezzo-soprano Fadia Tomb el-Hage, he performed a piece for piano and voice, composed by Gabriel Yared on a text by Nadia Tuéni. It is an original show, specially designed for Baalbeck, combining different musical styles that Simon Ghraichy, virtuoso pianist, will offer his audience on July 17th. That night, he will be joined by Rana Gorgani, a French dancer of Iranian origin who, through her mastery of twirling, goes beyond traditional codes. Invited by Simon Ghraichy to create this show with him, she will express herself by dancing like a whirling dervish. A third artist will join this July 17th night. This is Jacopo Baboni Shilingi, an artist of so-called “art” music that combines writing and interactivity, and who has been described by the international press as one of the most representative composers of his generation. He is regularly invited to concerts and performances at “classic” venues around the world. An electroacoustic music composer renowned for his computer-aided compositions and musical research, Jacopo Baboni Shilingi will provide oriental-inspired interludes that will bridge the gap between the different piano pieces played by Simon Ghraichy. This concert for three, a mixture of oriental and Latin flavors, classical and popular music, classical tradition and new technologies such as Baalbeck, will be presented on the Acropolis.

It will not be the first time that these three artists, united by a great friendship, and who dream of coming to Baalbeck, have collaborated to create together an original show, especially conceived for the Temple of the Sun.

Rana Gorgani. Photo DR

With this night, the festival revives its tradition of initiating cultural dialogue and strengthens the vital links between East and West, a very Lebanese specificity.

Ticket office at all branches of the Antoine bookshop, as well as at the entrance to the Acropolis of Baalbeck.

Bus transport also available at the Antoine bookshop.

Tel. : +961 1 697 310, extension : 260.

Simon Ghrichy. Photo DR

The dates

– Friday, July 8 (Opening Night): Conductor Loubnan Baalbaki and Singer Soumaya Baalbaki.

– Sunday, July 10: the Adonis quartet.

– Monday, July 11: the trio José Quevedo “Bolita”.

– July 17: Simon Ghraichy, Rana Gorgani and Jacopo Baboni Shilingi.

The president of the Baalbeck Festival, Nayla de Freige, cannot imagine Lebanon stripped of its role as an artistic and cultural center, without the breadth and generosity of the temples of Baalbeck, without the thirst for perpetual creation, in its cultural tradition and in its engagement with young people. For her, consider an art or music festival in these difficult times, where…

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