Cairo’s Hayy Festival: A celebration of contemporary Arabic music

Cairo’s Hayy Festival: A celebration of contemporary Arabic music
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Karima Nayt performs May 23. (Frederick Gille)
Cairo’s Hayy Festival: A celebration of contemporary Arabic music
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Youssra El Hawary performs June 7. (Khaled Marzouk)
Updated 22 May 2018

Cairo’s Hayy Festival: A celebration of contemporary Arabic music

Cairo’s Hayy Festival: A celebration of contemporary Arabic music

CAIRO: Music fans are in for a real treat this month when Cairo’s El Genaina Theater hosts the annual music gathering, Hayy Festival, which begins May 23 and runs over three weekends to June 7.

Award-winning Algerian singer, dancer, and actress Karima Nayt opens this year’s edition. Nayt is an accomplished artist whose repertoire spans Algerian, classical Arabic and French music. Nayt has previously collaborated as a soloist-dancer with Cairo’s Modern Dance Theatre Company and as a singer with Sharkiat, a music group founded and led by renowned Egyptian musician Fathy Salama. In 2013, her album “Quoi d’Autre?” (What Else?) scooped the best CD award at the Swedish Folk & World Music Awards.

On June 1, a double-header brings two Egyptians bands together: Hageen and Mazeek. Founded in 2015, Hageen are a six-member Alexandrian band offering a fresh take on reggae. Mazeek — consisting of former members of Ashara Gharby and Uss we Lazq — are a world music band whose sound incorporates Afro-beats, and Egyptian, Sudanese and North African folklore.

On the closing night of the festival, June 7, the renowned accordionist, and singer-songwriter Youssra El Hawary will take the stage. With a strong fan base in Egypt and abroad, El Hawary experiments with an array of sounds and styles. Her music crosses multiple genres including alternative folk, French chanson, indie rock and jazz. Together with her band, El Hawary released her crowd-funded debut album “No'oum Nasyeen” in December 2017, to widespread critical acclaim.  

Founded in 2005 and housed within Al Azhar Park, El Genaina Theater is one of Cairo’s most-cherished music venues, with a vibrant music program running between April and November each year.