Baalbeck Festival to honour Umm Kulthum

CAIRO – 15 July 2018: Baalbeck International Festival, the oldest and most prominent cultural festival in the Middle East, will honour legendary Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum in its opening ceremony.
The festival is scheduled to run from July 20 to August 18 at the Roman Temple of Bacchus, Lebanon.
The opening ceremony titled “Baalbeck Remembers Umm Kulthum” will honour the Arab world's greatest singer through a 90-minute combination of her most famous songs presented by renowned Egyptian composer and conductor Hisham Gabr.
The collection will include "Seerat El-Hob" (Love’s Name), "Enta Omry" (You Are My Life), "Fakkarouni" (They Reminded Me), "Hayyart Albi" (You Confused My Heart), "Alf Laila Wa Laila" (One Thousand and One Nights), and "Aghadan Alkak" (Am I Going To Meet You Tomorrow?).
The festival will witness the participation of prestigious artists such as Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Matthieu Chedid, Ibrahim Maaouf, Georges Khabbaz, Jahida Wehbe, Elie Maalouf and many others.
“The festival was launched in 1956. Initially, the festival was managed by people on a mission to promote culture and tourism in Lebanon. They aspired to nurture an enticing artistic environment rooted in cross-cultural exchange. They also strove to establish a unique setting for innovative performances by local, regional and acclaimed international talents. Soon the festival became an annual highlight on the calendar every summer, gaining an international reputation and attracting big names on the music, theatre and dance scenes,” the festival’s website reads.
Who is Umm Kulthum?
Umm Kulthum was a beloved Egyptian singer and actress; she is considered one of the greatest singers in Arab history.
Umm Kulthum's voice was quickly identified as unique, strong, vibrant and instantly recognizable.
Her famous songs include: “Al Atlal” (The ruins), “El hobb Kolloh” (all the love), “Ya Zalemeny” (You were unjust to me), “Ya Mesharany” (You keep me awake all night), “Hayart Albi Ma’ak” (You confused my heart) amongst others.
In 1944, Umm Kulthum was granted the highest level of Order of Virtues, ‘Nishan el-Kamal’ by King Farouk. After Egypt’s 1952 revolution, the new military leadership attempted to prevent her from singing because of the award, but Gamal Abdel Nasser, a fan of Umm Kulthum, intervened and reversed the decision.
After the 1967 War, in which Israel occupied parts of Egypt, Umm Kulthum sang a series of nationalistic songs that fuelled patriotism and pan-Arab sentiment. She also gave many performances in various Arab countries to raise money for the Egyptian army.
More than three decades after her death, Umm Kulthum still lives on in the hearts of all her fans and her brilliant voice still rings in their ears. Her fans gave her the title "Kawakab Al-Sharq" (Star of the East). Umm Kulthum was considered the greatest Arab singer of the 20th century.
Her valuable belongings and old records and tapes were moved to the Umm Kulthum Museum at Manasterli palace in December 2001. The museum is a wonderful tribute to the singer's life.
Umm Kulthum’s spirit is felt in every corner of the museum. People have reported hearing her voice in the museum despite none of her songs was played at the time. Only there, can one know the story of this dazzling Egyptian woman sticking to her silk scarf, which she could never do without during performances.
Umm Kulthum died on February 3, 1975.