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Taher Ismail, a retired army officer, plays his tambura at the Sharjah Directorate of Heritage majlis. Ismail has been playing since he was 10 and wishes more young people would learn the old instruments. Razan Alzayani / The National

As final part of the music performance series carrying traditional music from the GCC states the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair this evening will see a double bill with music from the United Arab Emirates. The first part will host the tambura master Taher Ismail, one of the few remaining performers of this instrument that originally came from East-Africa. He will perform with three percussionists and a group of dancers.
Then after that Ali Obeid of the Takth Al Emirati will perform a program of popular and older Emirati songs, with an ensemble of three Emirati percussionists and a rababa player, who represents the Bedouin music of the region.

An earlier article on the music program of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, “Beyond books: regional music rounds out Abu Dhabi International Book Fair”,  by Saeed Saeed of The National, was highlighted in the Gulf Art Guide here.

Plans have arisen for a debate and working plan for the preservation of these traditions in a sustainable way, with for instance Morocco as an example. In Morocco in the festivals of Essaouira, Marrakech, Fes, Agadir and numerous smaller regional festivals these tradiytions are an asset, for preserving an identity, for keeping a bond with the past, but like in Essaouira, Fes and Agadir also as material for innovation, and for a vial local economy attracting (huge amounts of) international tourists. Especially in a country like Oman such an approach would be promising, but it is also a challenging topic in the light of the huge national musicians notably in Abu Dhabi and Doha that are currently being constructed. The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority could take a leading role in this, and the Qatar Museums Authority, the Bait Al Baranda in Oman, etc. These traditions do not need to become material for museums and some isolated folkloric events, and further be restricted to remote pockets of local culture, where of course meanwhile they should be carefully protected. The Festival of Essaouira in cooperations with the late Joe Zawinul, the Wailers and Omar Sosa from Cuba proved how viable these traditions can be when integrated in a forward directions. The Festival of Essaouira was founded by the mayor, André Azoulay, who is also a Minister in the Moroccan cabinet, and during the festival he is strongly visibly present everywhere, and available for all participants.  In the same way the festival of Fes is challenging Arabic artists with a main audience like Kathem Saher and Assala to find new ways to adopt traditions, with its director Faouzi Skalli bringing a strong personal, but subservient and effective mark to the event.

The program was curate by Neil van der Linden with Marianne Catalan Kennedy and several helping hands from various countries, like Lisa Urkevich, Hamza Serafi, Ahmed Mater, Tammi Moe, Ali Maghani, Yacouf Yousef Shrougy, Khalid Rowaie, Mrs Monira, Kamylia Rub, Rana Sadik, Fahad Al Obaidly, Malik Alhinai, Peggy Loar and others.

Here is a simple youtube clip of the performance on Sunday the 28th of April, the Qalali (or Ghalali) ensemble of Muharraq, Bahrain.

And here is a youtube clip of the performance on April the 27th by the ensemble from near Sur in Oman.

Author: Neil
Location: | | Posted on: Monday, April 29th, 2013