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A nostalgic evening with Tony Kaldas
Published in Daily News Egypt on 17 - 09 - 2008

At the Heliopolis branch of Diwan bookstore, a small crowd gathered for a musical evening by Egyptian singer Tony Kaldas, an aspiring young vocalist from Greek origins. He studied singing at the Cairo Opera House under the supervision of revered sopranos Taheya Shams El Din and Iman Mustafa.
As part of the Cairo Opera House company, Kaldas performed in several operas and aria, including "La Traviata and "Tosca among others. His notable covers of Magda El Roumy and Charles Aznavour attracted the attention of a larger, non-opera audience while his last concert, dedicated to great Lebanese poet Gibran Khalil Gibran, was a major success this summer.
Accompanied by Hossam Mohy on the guitar and Hassan El Manialawy on the oud, the set of Kaldas' latest intimate performance comprised of famous Arabic songs, rearranged for the two string instruments.
Kaldas ingenuity lies in the careful choice of songs. He moved from the Fairouz canon to more traditional tunes of the likes of Asmahan and Sayed Darwish.
While mixing two string instruments together seemed to complement the two varying streams in Arabic music, it did actually manage to give a contemporary vibe to Kaldas singing. Manialawy s playing on the oud was more than impressive while Mohy's guitar chords reinvented the songs in a new form.
Despite his classical training, Kaldas did not shy away from trying his hand on traditional Arabic music despite marked, sometimes clashing, technical differences.
Kaldas has a pleasant, uncluttered voice with a rich lower register and a jazzy mood to his performance. While he is a trained tenor, his upper register is not as dramatic or powerful as his lower one. He seems to be more at ease singing from a low key, with round, full voice.
In the tradition of Hary Connick Jr. and John Pizzarelli, Kaldas sings with little accompanying instruments, leaving room for improvisation and melodic phrasing. The strings add a lush, serene sound, leaving enough space for Kaldas' voice to act as another instrument; another layer of sound.
Kaldas is more than comfortable to croon and color his voice as the song and the mood unravel. And this is where his classical training becomes visible.
Kaldas focused mainly on Fairouz, a clever choice since the Lebanese singer's music is considered middle-of-the-road traditional Arabic music that borrows heavily from different western musical forms such as ballads, arias and symphonies.
Yet, his rendition of Asmahan s classic hit "Emmta Hataaref (When Will You Realize?) was the highlight of the performance. Kaldas' voice seems to be at its full and he was apt at capturing the heavy, complex voice of Asmahan and the various ornamentations that rendered her voice so distinctive. Asmahan was known for alternating between singing styles, using both oriental and western singing techniques. The same can be said for Kaldas, whose remarkable rendition was delivered with ease and deftness.
Kaldas has a promising singing career ahead of him, and with a little more technical training and study; he is bound to be one of the few accomplished vocalists in the Arab world.

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