This coming Sunday February 25h, Cairo Opera House will be privy to the stellar convergence of two master artists: legendary composer and producer Fathy Salama, and Sufi singer Sheikh Mahmoud Al-Tuhami.
As the only Arab Grammy Award and BBC Awards winner, and winner of the Cairo International Film Festival prize, Fathy Salama is a tremendous figure in Egyptian music. In the '80s he composed and arranged songs for many of Egypt's biggest pop artists, including Mohamed Mounir, Amr Diab and Ali Alhagar. Though despite this success with pop, this is not where Salama's passion lies, more interested in jazz (he studied with jazz greats in NYC) and traditional Oriental styles. In '89 he started his group Sharkiat, which remains active today; he is a pioneer. in no way stuck - in 2001 he created a multimedia show called "Kouchari" in which he mixed electronic music, traditional Egyptian rhythms, and visuals. For the past 20 years, he has been hosting workshops to teach upcoming artists such as Dina El Wedidi and Masar Egbari. Salama remains a pillar of musical integrity in the community, and is looked up to for not just his skill, but his philosophy that keeps his work relevant and honest.
Sheikh Mahmoud Al-Tuhami is one of Egypt's best loved Sufi singers, son of the world renowned munshid singer Sheikh Yassin Al-Tuhami. Mahmoud studied under his father, as well as Sheikh al-Arif Billah, and started the Prince Taz Palace School of Chanting and Music in Cairo.
He has performed around the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa, and received the title of Cultural Ambassador of the Arab World from the International Association for Intellectual and Cultural Creativity in France. As well, he regularly performs around the country at mawalid celebrations of Sufi saints, as well as semi-regularly at the Opera House.
Will this show of "Sufism vs. Modernism" represent a clash as the "vs." in the title might insinuate? Is Sufism antithetical to modernism? We doubt it. Beauty and spirituality are timeless, and surely the confluence of two artists with such highly tuned artistic and spiritual sensibilities will result in an evening of euphoric and stimulating music.
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