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Lively cultural nights
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 28 - 09 - 2006

Nevine El-Aref samples cultural activities during Ramadan at historical sites
Throughout the holy month of Ramadan the historic sites of Al-Ghouri complex, Beit Al-Harrawi, Al-Seheimi and Taz Palace, as well as Talaat Harb Library in Al-Sayeda Nafisa district, Al-Manesterli Palace in Al-Rowda Island and the Alexandria Creativity Centre will host several cultural activities, concerts and dance performances to celebrate Ramadan nights. Sponsored by the Cultural Development Fund, all performance are free of charge except at Al-Manesterli Palace.
Tonight, after Iftar, the play Mameluke Comedy will launch the Cultural Development Fund's (CDF) Ramadan programme at the open court of Al-Ghouri Palace. Two days later the Al-Ghouri complex will be buzzing with different concerts and dance performances.
At the Wekala (trade centre), Al-Tannura troupe will perform three special concerts of distinguished folkloric dance and music which revive Egypt's art and cultural heritage. The Tahmeila (the Musical interlude) displays the skills of the musicians and the capability of their popular and folk instruments such as the rababa, salamia, flute, drums, tambourines and sanjes which always accompany the dancers.
Head of CDF Ayman Abdel-Moneim said that in the second week there will be several performances by the Cairo Troupe for Sufi Inshad Dini (Sufi religious recitals), as well as by other folk troupes from various Arab countries. During the third week, concerts of the Conservatoire Orchestra and Sama Troupe will take place, and in the fourth week the Al-Ghouri Palace will host an Andalusia gala performance by a Spanish Folkloric Troupe and three Andalusian workshops where handicrafts are produced and sold.
On the sidelines of all these nights at Al-Ghouri Complex, traditional and folk art handicrafts from participating countries will be exhibited.
Beit El-Harrawi will be the stage for concerts of renowned Egyptian singers and new singing troupes. It is located in Al-Bateniya area, 100 metres away of Al-Hussein Mosque in Al-Azhar. There, the programme will begin on 2 October with a concert by the renowned singer Mohamed Tharwat. In successive weeks there will be performances by Mohamed El-Helw, Fathi Salama and Yehia Khalil among others.
On 15 October renowned singer Mohamed Munir will be the guest of honour of Beit Al-Harrawi, where he will entertain on the same night as the 30 February musical group. Singer Beshir will perform his usual Nubian songs, while the Arab Oud House and the Banat Al-Nil Troupe (Nile Girls) are also on Al-Harrawi agenda.
On Tuesday 3 October, Beit Al-Seheimi will enrich Ramadan nights with the opening of Al-Sira Al-Hilaliya oral epic recitation -- a cultural staple of Ramadan -- which will continue until 12 October. Abdel-Moneim told Al-Ahram Weekly that every night vernacular poet Abdel-Rahman El-Abnoudi, who has transcribed the epic and published it in book form, will present and provide occasional commentary on the recitation of Al-Sira. The epic is recited by Sayed El-Daoui, the last survivor of a long line of oral storytellers who memorised Al-Sira by heart.
The Beit Seheimi, located at Al-Darb Al-Asfar in Gammaliya, will also host performances of religious recitals, Nubian songs and folk music during Ramadan.
Concerts at Taz Palace in Sayeda Zeinab will open with famous Egyptian singer Medhat Saleh, and a performance of the New Valley folk art troupe. Concerts of Syrian singer Magd Al-Qassem, Tareq Fouad and Maha El-Badri will be staged, as well as poetry reading by veteran vernacular poet Gamal Bekhit.
Al-Tanbura troupe will be among the Taz Palace agenda. Hailing from Port Said in Egypt, Al-Tanbura performs mesmerising ancient Hadra and Dama Sufi songs on a variety of traditional instruments. Egyptian whirl dervishes to this highly rhythmic and spiritual music driven by the simsimiya, a Lyre harp dating back to the Pharaohs, significant in its use in both exorcisms and healing ceremonies.
In 1989, Zakaria Ibrahim founded the Tanbura musical troupe trying to revive the folkloric music of semsemia of Port- Said, using at the same time an instrument called "Tanbura" which was related to "Al-Zar" (Egyptian folkloric ceremony that used to be practised to kick out demons and ghosts).
The Talaat Harb Library in Al-Sayeda Nafisa will host three performances beginning with Al-Leila Al-Kabira (The Big Night) operetta written by famous poet Salah Jahin. Al-Leila Al-Kabira, a rollicking musical puppet show, is an adventure in the wonderful world of mulids. The library is up a little slope across from the square in front of the mosque.
The last week at the library will be devoted to a puppet show and a collection of folk art performances for kids. An exhibition of Arabic calligraphy will be exhibited and accompanied with art workshops for plastic arts and Arabic calligraphy. The CDF will also organise an Iftar for parentless children.
The Manesterli Palace in Rowda will begin its Ramadan nights on 5 October with Kulthumiyat, where a number of Um Kulthoum songs will be performed by famous Arabic Music Troupe singers. Concerts by Hassan Sharara, Emad Hamdi and Al-Oud House Orchestra will also take place. Alexandria Creativity Centre will stage a poetry reading of veteran vernacular poet Sayed Hegab. Concerts for famous Iraqi musician Noseir Shama and Oyoun Group (Eyes Group), Ibrahim Al-Hefnawi and El-Abnoudi will also be held.

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