Saudi music legend Abdu’s new video rakes up a storm

Updated 28 August 2013
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Saudi music legend Abdu’s new video rakes up a storm

A new video clip released on the first day of Eid by “The Artist of Arabs” Mohammed Abdu has disappointed his fans, who say the song, in which the singer is wearing a Western attire and includes dance scenes, does not suit his grand status and age.
The song is called ‘Wahda be Wahda,’ Arabic for ‘one for one,’ and is directed by Kuwaiti director Yaqoub Al-Muhanna. Abdu’s fans criticized his new video on social media platforms, where they vented their embarrassment. Many of them say the Saudi singer did a huge mistake by agreeing to do the video because it was more suitable for a young singer and not for an legend of the Arab world.
“When I first saw it I thought it was a prank because Mohammed Abdu is always singing the national anthem and the lyrics for his songs are usually written by Saudi royalty,” tweeted Amal Al-Qahtani.
“Imagine the late opera singer Pavarotti appearing in a video clip for Snoop Dogg. This action doesn’t suit giants, because every artist has his own style, which he built over the years. The video clip it is a setback, not an evolution,” said Raja Sayer Al-Mutairi, editor of the entertainment page in Al-Riyadh daily newspaper.
“This video clip is acceptable from a younger singer like Lebanese singer Meriam Fares or Egyptian singer Saad Elsoghayar because it is more of their style but Mohammad Abdo has never filmed anything like that during his long singing career. I find the Kuwaiti director, Yaqoub Al-Muhanna, quite daring to film this kind of a song. I hold Yaaqoub responsible for distorting the image of Mohammed Abdu, for he chose a style that doesn’t suit the age of the artist and his status, not to mention the fact that the filming isn’t compatible with the lyrics of the song. I don’t know why he chose to film the video clip in a club when the song is all about a man addressing his beloved,” he said.
Another tweep Ammar Ashour said Abdu ruined his reputation with the amateur video clip. “I don’t know what he was thinking and what he was trying to proof. He is already a legend and he does not need improvement. He lost many fans because of this song,” he said.
The director should have studied the audience before working on the clip, said tweep Najlaa Al-Mutairi.
“When working with a legend such as Mohammed Abdu, one should always do their homework and know who they are dealing with,” she said. “Now I’m sure Al-Muhanna’s market value has gone down and many artists are going to refuse to work with him after he ruined Abdu’s reputation,” she added.
Journalist Salah Makhareesh tweeted: “The idea of filming a video clip doesn’t suit the artistic history of this legend; I wish he didn’t broadcast the whole thing.”
Fahad Zaidan, art editor in Al-Madinah daily, said: “Mohammad Abdu surprised everyone with this clip that doesn’t go with his status. He made a big mistake and distorted his reputation. He would have deplored other singers if they did the same. It will be best for Abdu to quit singing and maintain his dignity, because staying will stain his reputation even more.”
Managing editor of Al-Nadi newspaper Naeem Tamem Al-Hakim said that Arab artistic and music history is replete with emotional and nationalistic songs. “These songs and the songs of the late artist Talal Maddah enriched the Saudi music history.”
“This song was not only a failure but it was like falling into the swamp of youth songs that contradict Abdu’s long artistic history, which is filled with creativity and innovation,” said Al-Hakim.
“He should quit now on demand to maintain his reputation,” he added.


Rarer than a Sumatran rhino: a woman composer

Updated 18 February 2019
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Rarer than a Sumatran rhino: a woman composer

  • “I was the only woman in all my classes in the Conservatoire, and it was fine,” said Pepin, who is now working on her first ballet score in her Paris apartment which doubles as a studio

PARIS: Camille Pepin is part of a very rare breed. She is a female composer.
Women have conquered space, risen in the military ranks, but some professions remain resolutely and bewilderingly masculine.
When Pepin turned up for her first day at the Paris Conservatoire — as usual the only woman in a class of men — an official told her that her name wasn’t on the list.
But when she insisted that she was and that he look again, he cried, “Ah, you’re a woman!“
Camille is also a man’s name in France.
“I would never have thought,” he apologized. “There are so many men...”
With so few female composers in the classical music repertoire, it was an easy mistake to make.
Pepin has never let everyday sexism get her down though, laughing it off like water off a duck’s back.
“One male composer told me I was getting commissions because I was a woman and not too bad looking,” said the 28-year-old, whose first album, “Chamber Music,” is released later this month.
After a concert of one of her more combative pieces, “a man came to tell me my music was ‘very fresh, flowery and sweet’,” she told AFP.
“I am a woman so clearly those three words” apply, she said wryly.
Pepin, whose music recalls both Claude Debussy and American minimalist composers like John Adams, said sometimes the sexist stereotypes which persist in the classical music world are hard to take.

One “old school” music professor insisted she sit on his right at lunch “because that was a woman’s place” and sent her off to make the coffee.
“I was the only woman in all my classes in the Conservatoire, and it was fine,” said Pepin, who is now working on her first ballet score in her Paris apartment which doubles as a studio.
Mostly the young composer, who made her breakthrough with the orchestral piece “Vajrayana” in 2015, said she was treated exactly the same as her male colleagues in classes with French contemporary composers like Guillaume Connesson, Thierry Escaich and Marc-Andre Dalbavie.
Beyond the classroom, however, progress is slow in the conservative world of classical music.
Pepin believes it will take generations for the forgotten work of female composers to get just recognition.
Beyond the casual unthinking sexism, she said the biggest problem for young female composers was “a lack of role models.”
A few woman such as the American composer Meredith Monk, Kaija Saariaho of Finland and Tansy Davies from Britain have managed to break the glass ceiling.

But even Pepin admitted that when she was younger she didn’t know of a single female composer.
“We never studied them,” she said.
Who has ever heard of Helene de Montgeroult (1764-1836), Louise Farrenc (1804-1875) or Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1847)?
Fanny was the older sister of the more famous Felix Mendelssohn, with many at the time saying her work was more expressive.
But after she married she was limited to domestic duties and had to content herself with being her brother’s chief editor and muse, which led him to call her his “Minerva” of wisdom.
“Lots of female composers were crushed like Clara Schumann (the wife of Robert Schumann),” despite being one of the most distinguished composers and musicians of the Romantic era, said the pianist Celia Oneto Bensaid, who often performs Pepin’s work.
“You play my music,” Schumann once bluntly told his wife, a star of concert halls across Europe.

Born into a family in the northern French city of Amiens that wasn’t particularly musical, Pepin began to write her own melodies at 13.
But even at the age of five in her ballet class, her eyes were more drawn to the piano.
“I was so fascinated that I would forget to do my exercises,” she said.
Before settling on composing, Pepin thought about being a dancer. “I need to feel the notes physically,” she said.
Her first ballet will be choreographed next year by Sylvain pad for France’s Ballet du Nord.
Finally, she feels she is getting beyond the dreaded question — “But what do you do for a living?” — when she tells people she’s a composer.
“They thought it was just something I did to chill on Sundays,” she laughed.