This Ramadan, join poet Mahdi Mansour and musician Faraj Abyad in conversation with the poet, critic, and media expert Barween Habib about the interwoven relationship between poetry, philosophy, and music.
Beginning with Andalusian poetry and classical music, they delve deeper into contemporary poetry and music, exploring the profound impact the Andalusian Maqamat have had on the present-day Arabic poem structure and its musical Maqamat.
Simultaneous English Interpretation will be provided.
Faraj Abyad is a composer and a multi-instrumentalist of Syrian/Aleppian descent based in New York City, who specializes in performing traditional Arabic music. He often performs concerts, in which he gathers distinguished musicians and singers from around the Middle East, to advocate classical Arabic music in a contemporary world.
His goal as a musician and singer is to preserve and uphold the timeless beauty of ancestral Arabic music, while advancing and progressing their historic melodies to appeal to the modern era. Although his primary role in his orchestra is singing, he also is particularly skilled on oud, violin and percussion.
Faraj was the first Arabic singer/composer to have an exclusive video filmed in the Islamic wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Additionally, Faraj was recently featured at Carnegie Hall on Arabic Language Day in 2021. In 2022, he was commissioned by Abu Dhabi Music Festival to produce an Album of modern Tarab to the greats of classical Arabic poetry. This album was recorded in the legendary Power Station studios in New York City where some of the greatest American musical icons have recorded their Albums.
Mahdi Mansour is one of the leading poets in Lebanon and the Arabic world. His journey in poetry started in 2003, on a television show entitled “Al-moumayazoun” (i.e.: Talented People) which was aired on the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC); one of the famous T.V channels in Lebanon during that time. On that show, He competed with poets from Lebanon and the Arabic world and won the golden medal for the category of improvised poetry.
Mansour refined his extraordinary talent and creativity by studying and teaching Arabic literature during his high school and college years. Nevertheless, his interest in sciences, especially physics, equaled his passion for literature and he received his Doctorate degree in Molecular Physics in 2015.
Mansour’s poems were widely recognized in the Arabic world and were praised by fans and critics. He won several prizes for his poetry collection and represented Lebanon in many poetry festivals and educational forums in recent years.
One of the most memorable phases in Mansour’s journey was his participation in the show “Amir al-shouaraa” (i.e.: Prince of Poets) in 2008 which was produced and aired on Abu Dhabi international channel. In this show, he won the jury’s award and became an icon among his fellow poets and across the Arab nations.
Mansour’s poetry is known for its’ authenticity and modernity; he tackles today’s social conflicts and concerns in a creative language and a distinguished Arabic poetic rhythm. His talent and creativity were idolized on more than one occasion by great poets like Said Akel and Ghassan Matar.
In 2009, he won the Naji Noaman award among many other recognitions and medals for his distinguished talent and language. To note that Mansour’s poems are being integrated in books of Arabic literature and taught in the Lebanese and Arabic curricula, and some of his poems were translated to the English and German languages for the study of Topoly by the Goethe German Institute.
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A series of short films by Emirati filmmakers
Classical and contemporary Andalusian poetry inspires a set of original compositions
Balimaya Project is built on the foundation of forging cultural ties rooted in the experience of being a West African musician living in the diaspora, exploring new approaches from a place of integrity, authenticity, and inspiration.