THE EGYPTIAN COMPOSERS PROJECT

In 2018, Egyptian composers Amr Okba, Bahaa El Ansary, Karim Frege and Ashraf Fouad composed new works for CGC. In addition, Bahaa El Ansary conducted a series of intensive workshops as part of the Emerging Egyptian Composers Competition. The winners are Kholoud Adel and Ahmed Radwan. This project is funded by a grant from the American University in Cairo. Click here to listen to the pieces performed by CGC.

ABOUT THE COMPOSERS & COMPOSITIONS

AMR OKBA 

A Case of Meditation 

Amr Okba's guitar duet, A Case of Meditation, is a representation of two contrasting yet coexisting identities. The subject's Western identity seems to be dominant, yet its Oriental roots intermittently emerge, evoking fresh and colorful thoughts, traditions and culture. The work maintains a spacious soundscape in which subtle rhythmic contrasts draw closer to one another but are inevitably repelled. To learn more about Okba, please visit his website.

BAHAA EL ANSARY

Love the sounds, which sounds, as it sounds

Bahaa El Ansary's composition, Love the sounds, which sounds, as it sounds, is an abstract exploration of oud and classical guitar timbres. The formal design is based on Lamma bada yatathanna, a classical Andalusian muwashshah and cornerstone of Arab music performance tradition for centuries. To learn more about El Ansary, please visit his website.

KARIM FREGE

The Silk Road 

Karim Frege's guitar duet, The Silk Road, is in the form of a theme and (six) variations based on an old Arabic folk tune called Bint el Shalabeya. According to Frege, "There are a lot of arguments about it's origin, some say it's Bedouin, others say it's Syrian some even say it might be Indian! Anyway, this tune is very popular and is performed in the whole Middle-East and even Eastern Europe. This is the reason I decided to call it The Silk Road.

 

The work starts as one guitar performs the theme while the other provides a simple bass accompaniment. Even though a third voice enters near the end of the movement, the texture remains thin, allowing the listener to focus on the charming melody. In the first variation, the guitars restate the theme, but this time with heavy ornamentation and in compound time. The movement evokes a barcarolle and a European Renaissance style. The following variations increasingly employ contemporary idioms and attempt to reconcile Eastern and Western traditions. Special emphasis is placed on rhythms, harmonies and representation of oud effects. In the lively finale, the theme is recast in a contemporary style, full of syncopation.

Of all the composers commissioned for this project, Frege is the only professional guitarist. In fact, for decades, he as been one of Egypt's most accomplished classical guitar teachers and performers. Frege lives and works in Alexandria, Egypt. Listen to two movements from one of Frege's previous compositions Jazzy Flicks, performed by himself and Shady Nagy (a former CGC member).

ASHRAF FOUAD 

Tre Angoli

Ashraf Fouad's (mostly) guitar trio Tre Angoli is a three-movement work that draws inspiration from the international make-up of CGC. Each movement is named after CGC members' respective hometowns: Silesia (Pawel Kuzma), Mansoura (Taha El Mansy) and Los Angeles (Chelsea Green). In the movement entitled Mansoura, Taha is required to exchange his guitar for an oud.

 

Fouad is a composer, who teaches composition and theory at The American University in Cairo. He is a graduate of The Academy of Arts in Cairo, Egypt, and The Juilliard School of Music, New York, where he advanced to the level of DMA studies with David Diamond (1988–1991). At the Cairo Conservatory, he studied with Taha Nagy and Said Awad. At Juilliard, Fouad studied composition with Stanley Wolfe, Joseph Schwantner, and Bernard Rands. Among his works, which were premiered at Juilliard are: Sonata Concertante for Violin and Piano (Paul Hall) and String Quartet (Alice Tully Hall).

A working musician all his life, Fouad has been performer, producer, researcher, teacher, lecturer, and composer. In 1994, he joined the faculty at The American University in Cairo as composer-in-residence. Since then, he has written Ithaca (cantata for orchestra, chorus and soloists), a commission celebrating the 75th anniversary of the University. Other works composed, while at AUC include Afterthought, a song for tenor, soprano, violin, and piano; Longing, song for voice and piano; Cairo Tapestry, a work in collaboration with artist Paul Rinaldi in video and music; Tapestry Suite, for nine musicians; Silently I Wait, I admire Your Face, songs for voice and piano; Christmas Song, ensemble song for voice, harp, percussion and piano; In the Basement, tuba solo; New Jersey Girls, three songs for bass tuba, and piano; Love Cycle, four songs for voice and piano; Waheeda, a trio for vion, violoncello and piano; Sonata Piccola, piano sonata; Nature’s Angels, song for voice and piano; Toccata Moderna, for piano. In the Theater, Fouad wrote Octahedron, score for experimental theater and recorded the incidental music for Sophocles’s Antigone and performed live in Brecht’s A Man’s a Man with director Frank Bradley. Recent performances of Fouad’s works have been in Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt; Washington DC; Chicago; New York; Dublin; London; Vienna; Komaron; Slovakia; and Budapest, Hungary. Awards for his works have come from The Kennedy Center, Washington, DC, and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).

WINNERS OF THE EMERGING COMPOSERS COMPETITION

Kholoud Adel's Is it Conscious?! (guitar duet) and Ahmed Radwan's A Trip to the Sea (for two guitars, oud & melodica) 

 

 

 Front to back: Bahaa El Ansary (director), Kholoud Adal, Ahmed Radwan and Mohamed El Sayyad (participants)

CONCERT DATES & LOCATIONS

Click the links below to get more information about each concert.

CAIRO, EGYPT

3 May 2018 | Cairo, Egypt | Oriental Hall, AUC Tahrir | 8 pm | Free

9 May 2018 | Cairo, Egypt | Malak Gabr, AUC New Cairo | 1 pm | Free

CALIFORNIA, USA

29 May 2018 | San Bernardino, California, USA | CSUSB | 3-5 pm

31 May 2018 | Los Angeles, California, USA | Organ Studio, Herb Alpert School of Music Building, UCLA | 8 pm | Free (parking $9)

1 June 2018 | Pomona, California, USA | Music Recital Hall, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona | 8:30 pm | $10

3 June 2018 | San Francisco, California, USA | Red Poppy Art House | 7:30 pm | $20-25

4 June 2018 | Davis, California, USA | UC Davis | 1-3 pm | Free