Muscat: For Arabs and non-Arabs alike, the lineup of Arabesque concerts and events in the 2014-2015 season at the Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) is sure to charm and delight.
The concerts include annual favourites such as the Military Music of Oman, regional stars like Hussain Al Jassmi, and popular artists returning to the ROHM, like Egyptian composer and pianist Omar Khairat, who last performed here in February 2012.
Click on the link to view the photo gallery of Arabesque artists at ROHM:
ROHM's director general, Christina Scheppelmann, said she encourages people from all cultures and backgrounds to attend these performances, as the music transcends borders and languages and will entertain everyone.
The Arabesque series begins on October 9 with a concert titled 'A Night of Inshaad', music that focuses on melodic vocal performances of Islamic poetry. It will feature a number of musicians and ensembles who find inspiration in Islam.
Artists include the Areej Art Band from Oman, Sheikh Mashary Alafasy from Kuwait, and Maestro Gamal Salama from Egypt with his orchestra, choir and soloists Moustafa Hussein, Amira Ahmad, Nouran Yehya, and Eman Abdel Ghany. Though it's religious in nature, Inshaad has the ability to touch the hearts of anyone who listens to it, whether they are Muslim or not.
"The Inshaad is a concert we will have every year and we might even expand on it. I think there is so much beautiful music in the Sufi and Inshaad. One of my colleagues went to the sacred music festival in Fez, Morocco, recently and said the richness of what sacred music offers is just phenomenal. I think there is so much more that we can present," said Scheppelmann of the concert.?
Another annual concert is the Omani Women's Day Celebration. The October 15 concert, which falls two days before the annual Omani Women's Day, will feature Omani artists, international ensembles, and a performance by Egyptian singer Angham. Last year the concert-goers were delighted by the surprise performance given by Iraqi sensation Kazim al Saher, who was performing the next day.
"We will continue little element of somebody that is going to make a guest appearance. It's hard to have a great a star as Kazim but we will always have a little addition of an appearance by a special star," Scheppelmann noted.
A highly-anticipated annual event is the Military Music of Oman concert which is held each November on the maidan outside the ROHM. The performance, which combines military marching and formations with live music, is so popular that this year it will be held over three days, on November 6, 7 and 8.
"Last year we thought it's so much work and so much rehearsal, those fantastic military musicians do such a great effort, let's do it twice. Twice was so successful we said why not do it three times? When I look back at the photos of military day, it's fabulous," Scheppelmann explained.
This year the Military Music of Oman concert will also feature two international groups, too, in addition to the bands from Oman's different police and military divisions. The free event will also be staged in such a way that more people will have better views of the performers, as there will be raised seating.
Emirati star Hussain Al Jassmi will take the stage on December 11. To date he has released six albums, most recently Al Jassmi 2010, which featured the hits Ghargan and Bahr Al Shoq, both of which were incredibly popular in Oman. Though his style is more Arab pop music than classical, Scheppelmann says his talent is strong enough to justify bringing him to the ROHM.
"There are different degrees of what pop music is, and I think Hussain Al Jassmi is really a fantastic musician at a slightly lighter music style, but always at a high musical level that we want. I also think it's very important that we appeal to various audiences and various ages," said Scheppelmann.
Since the 1930s one of the most recognisable and popular voices of the Arab World has been that of Umm Kulthum, the legendary Egyptian tarab singer. Even after her death in 1975, her voice and songs are well known throughout the region and even beyond. On February 2 and 3, the 40th anniversary of her death, the ROHM will pay tribute to her with a concert called Kulthumiyat, featuring 29-year-old Egyptian singer Amal Maher, who was heavily influenced by Umm Kulthum.
"I have a feeling it's the beginning of something there. I think it's fantastic to have a tribute to Umm Kulthum who is still so present. For me it was interesting to see that an artist who passed away quite a while ago is so present, even among young audiences. It's not just a certain generation. That enthusiasm and reverence for Umm Kulthum goes through several generations," commented Scheppelmann.
Lebanese oud master, singer and composer Marcel Khalife makes his ROHM debut on March 5 and 7 with the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra. He has toured around the world since the 1970s, and even been named a UNESCO Artist for Peace.
"It'll be a wonderful concert. He's very popular here. He's a fantastic addition so I'm very happy that it worked out that we could bring him," said Scheppelmann.
Omar Khairat, whose concerts in 2012 delighted the ROHM audience, returns on April 2 with the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra. The famous Egyptian's music is well-known throughout the Arab World, as much of it was written for TV and cinema.
The Arabesque series concludes on May 14 and 16 with the Reda Dance Troupe from Egypt. Founded by Ali and Mahmoud Reda and Farida Fahmy in the late 1950s, the group performs dance that combines western ballet with colourful Egyptian folkloric dancing.
The eight events in the ROHM's Arabesque series provide ample opportunities for fans of Arab music and culture to indulge in some of the region's best artists, right here in Muscat.
ROHM's Arabesque series schedule
A Night of Inshaad – October 9, 7:30pm
Omani Women's Day Celebration – October 15, 7:30pm
Military Music of Oman – November 6, 7 & 8, 6pm
Hussain Al Jassmi – December 11, 7:30pm
Kulthumiyat by Diva Amal Maher – February 2 & 3, 7:30pm
Marcel Khalife with ROSO – March 5 & 7, 7:30pm
Omar Khairat with ROSO – April 2, 7:30pm
Reda Dance Troupe – May 14 & 16, 7:30pm
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