Arab singers will pay tribute to eastern musical masterpieces starting Thursday (April 19th) at the Eastern Music Festival in Doha.
Organised by the Qatari Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage, the festival lasts for four days and will be held at Al-Rayyan theatre in the Qatari capital, Doha.
The festival's primary goal is to revive Arabic musical heritage and to shed light on its giants, like Umm Kulthum, Mohammed Abdel Wahab, Layla Murad, Wadih el-Safi, Asmahan, Fairuz and others, said Dr. Hassan Rashid, chairman of the event's organising committee.
Its other objective is to reinforce and strengthen the Arabic language for the festival's younger audience through hosting distinguished Arab singers who will present beautiful songs drawn from the Arabic musical heritage, he said.
"The festival in its first edition will be an opportunity to revive the era of beautiful music, especially in light of deteriorating standards in Arabic song as well as a decline in artistic and musical taste," Rashid told Al-Shorfa.
Over the course of four days, a group of Arab singers will perform the most famous old Arab songs.
On the evening of the first day, Egyptian singer Amal Maher will sing several of Umm Kulthum's songs.
On the second, Kuwaiti singer Abdullah al-Rowaished and Egyptian singer Ghada Rajab will pay homage to the musical heritage of Mohammed Abdel Wahab.
As for the third evening, Syrian Wa'ad al-Bahri and Jordanian Ayman Tayseer will sing a spectacular collection of songs of Levantine heritage.
On the final evening of the festival, Qatari artist Fahad al-Kubaisi will bring back the music of the greatest Arab Gulf singers and the Tunisian singer Dorsaf Hamadani will perform traditional Tunisian songs.
The Qatari Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage is interested in presenting art that advances musical tastes and fine-tunes the musical ears of Arab audiences, Rashid said.
He warned against the harmful effects of Western melodies as well as "low quality" songs to the Arabic listener, whether at the level of singing in particular or art in general.
Art critic Al-Hassan Bihi said he believes the festival can spark an annual tradition that will bring back authentic Arabic musical heritage.
"All music festivals hosted by Arab Gulf countries seem to ignore that glorious musical past, which is why this current festival will add quality to musical festivals," Bihi told Al-Shorfa.
Organising committee member Talal al-Amiri said he expected a high turnout, especially since the festival will occur over the weekend.
"We expect daily attendance to exceed 1,500 visitors, which is a high figure. A special theatre has been equipped to accommodate attending visitors and we have put together relevant programs such as scholarly seminars and discussion sessions about art that will add richness to the festival," he told Al-Shorfa.
The festival will host a series of symposiums Saturday and Sunday in the morning, which will address elements of Arabic music and ways to promote and develop it.
Dr. Nouri Iskander from Syria will take part in the first symposium Saturday morning to discuss the effects of oriental music in the West. The following symposium will feature Wajdi al-Hakim from Egypt, who will discuss singing in the Arab world.
On Sunday, Victor Sahab from Lebanon will address Western influences on oriental music and the artist Hussain al-A'dhami from Iraq will discuss Iraqi maqam and its spread in Iraq and the Arab world.