Anyone who says Ramadan is boring is clearly talking nonsense. Yes, some of the rowdier, sin-based venues around Cairo are closed for a well-deserved summer holiday but there has been a distinct swelling of live music covering a range that offers something for everyone in the past few weeks.
The highlight of Thursday has to be Mawaweel 2012 at Darb 1718. The annual festival brings together the best local art and music in one big Ramadan bash. The second (weekly) day of the festival presents the smooth sounds of Nubian-inspired singer, Basheer, and Sufi-jazz group, Mawalaweya, perform live.
Meanwhile, Oriental jazz fusion group, Eftekasat, will perform an 'unplugged' concert at Wikalet El Ghouri ahead of its upcoming Sufi Jazz Tour, and will feature Dutch clarinet and saxophone player Alex Simu.
The live music doesn’t stop there, though; Palestinian singer, Rim Banna, is gracing the stage at El Genaina Theatre in Al Azhar Park for a night of music inspired by the beauty and culture of Palestine.
On the other side of the city, MUST Opera House kicks of a special Ramadan series of gigs with Nesma Abdel Aziz – a passionate and talented marimba musician, who delivers a unique live performance. Always on call for festivities, Cairo Opera House hosts a pre-sohour Oriental Takht that will see Egyptian musicians, Rehab Omar and Waleed Hadar, perform.
Alternatively, one can enjoy a post-fetar film binge at Cimatheque in Downtown Cairo, with screenings of award-winning short film, Bahari, documentary In the Shadow of a Man and controversial film A Tin Tale.
Photopia’s brilliant series of talks continues tonight, with desert expert, rally organiser and motorcyclist Raed Baddar. The series runs concurrently with ‘Travel Stories’; a photography exhibition that ties in with the themes of the talks.
The merriment continues at Photopia on Friday with a performance by Egyptian band, Baheya – a band whose members met on Tahrir Square during the January 25th Revolution. Dina El Wadidi – hands down one of the most talented singers and musicians in this country – performs at El Genaina Theatre, while the Maadi branch of Bikya welcomes acoustic singer, Aya Mustafa; a young lady whose music has been compared to Joni Mitchell.
For something a little more traditional, and a little more peculiar, Zamalek bookstore Sufi has invited Amer El Tuni for a night of Sufi whirling. The oriental theme continues at El Sawy Culturewheel with separate performances coming courtesy of groups Basmat El Andalus and Fan El Namim. Alternatively, one can enjoy a night of music under the stars at Cairo Opera House’s Open Air Theatre with violin and guitar duo Hassan Sharara and Emad Hamdy.
Saturday is a somewhat slow day, with the biggest show coming at El Sawy Culturewheel as seven-man Egyptian group, Foo2 2el Soto7, showcase their jazz fusion. Expect them to dip into everything from Latin and funk to traditional Arabic music. There's more at El Sawy; named after the classic Egyptian string instrument, folkloric music group, El Semsemeya, will also perform.
Another dose of Cairo Opera House’s summer program comes in the form of Egyptian musicians Sayed El Rafie and Mashrabeyat, as they combine their talents for a mix of oriental music in the Open Air Theatre. In one of the more peculiar but furiously fascinating events of the weekend, Cairo Opera House has organised Indonesia Day; an evening celebrating the art, culture and music of our comrades to the east.
Art wise, Cala Art Gallery in Zamalek has put together Ramadan Kareem Group Exhibition; a collection of Ramadan-themed work by a number of Cairo’s most talented artists, while Zamalek Art Gallery has launched its tenth annual summer collective exhibition, ‘Masterpieces X’; an exhibition featuring sculptures and paintings from a host of prominent Egyptian artists.
Have a great weekend!