THE ROUNDUP – Regional pop-culture highlights

Tarek Khuluki is best-known as the guitarist for Syrian alt-rock trio Tanjaret Daghet. (Getty)
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Updated 26 June 2020

THE ROUNDUP – Regional pop-culture highlights

‘Dabke System’

47Soul

The first single from 47Soul’s upcoming album “Semitics” has already grabbed nearly 60,000 views on YouTube, suggesting the trio — all of whom are of Palestinian descent — have lost none of their momentum, despite former guitarist Hamza Arnaout leaving the band. “Dabke System” contains the kind of infectious groove and lyrical bite that has made the band so successful.

‘Ila Mata’

Bab’l Bluz

The French-Moroccan quartet are, according to their record label, “reclaiming the blues for North Africa … singing words of freedom in the Moroccan-Arabic dialect of darija.” The pulsating bassline and Yousra Mansour’s stellar vocals on  “Ila Mata” — lyrically inspired by Tunisian poet Anis Shoshan — are a good start.

‘Strung Out’

Tarek Khuluki

Khuluki is best-known as the guitarist for Syrian alt-rock trio Tanjaret Daghet. Here, he displays his knack for creating electronic music with a stuttering, claustrophobic track that features on the compilation album “Sera3.” In the promo material, “Strung Out” is billed as a “dark glitchy journey into the void of time, an atmospheric thriller that mimics the conflict between stability and movement.”

‘Madabya’

Jihane Bougrine

The Moroccan artist is back with an oud-driven “Moroccan Bossa Nova rock song,” according to her label. “It’s a song about hope, freedom, respect, love, dignity,” Bougrine said in a press release. “I am from a diverse country where we are all different — in tradition, in ways of speaking, in culture, and of course in the color of our skin.”


In Lebanon, single-concert festival serenades empty ruins

Updated 05 July 2020

In Lebanon, single-concert festival serenades empty ruins

  • The Baalbek International Festival was streamed live on television and social media
  • The night kicked off with the Lebanese philharmonic orchestra and choir performing the national anthem

BEIRUT: A philharmonic orchestra performed to spectator-free Roman ruins in east Lebanon Sunday, after a top summer festival downsized to a single concert in a year of economic meltdown and pandemic.
The Baalbek International Festival was instead streamed live on television and social media, in what its director called a message of “hope and resilience” amid ever-worsening daily woes.
The night kicked off with the Lebanese philharmonic orchestra and choir performing the national anthem, followed by Carmina Burana’s “O Fortuna,” a 13th century poem set to music.

The program, which ran for just over an hour, included a mix of classical music and rock and folk tunes by composers ranging from Beethoven to Lebanon’s Rahbani brothers.
Held in the open air and conducted by Harout Fazlian, the 150 musicians and chorists were scattered inside the illuminated Temple of Bacchus, as drones filmed them among the enormous ruins and Greco-Roman temples of Baalbek.
Festival director Nayla de Freige told AFP most artists performed for free at the designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
The concert aimed to represent “a way of saying that Lebanon does not want to die. We have an extremely productive and creative art and culture sector,” she said.
“We want to send a message of civilization, hope and resilience.”
Baalbek itself became a militia stronghold during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, but conservation and tourism have revived the ruins over the past three decades.
Lebanon is known for its summer music festivals, which have in past years drawn large crowds every night and attracted performers like Shakira, Sting and Andrea Bocelli.
Other festivals have not yet announced their plans for this year.
Lebanon has recorded just 1,873 cases of COVID-19, including 36 deaths.
But measures to stem the spread of the virus have exacerbated the country’s worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Since economic woes in the autumn sparked mass protests against a political class deemed irretrievably corrupt, tens of thousands have lost their jobs or part of their income, and prices have skyrocketed.
Banks have prevented depositors from withdrawing their dollar savings, while the local currency has lost more than 80 percent of its value to the greenback on the black market.