Musical Performance: A Tribute To Farid El-Atrache by Najeeb Shaheen

Sat, June 9, 2007 9:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Alwan For The Arts


Invites you To A Tribute To Farid El-Atrache

by Najeeb Shaheen On Oud

Saturday, June 9, 2007, 9:00 PM $15 ($10 for students with valid ID)

Farid El Atrache Farid El Atrache (October 19, 1915 - December 26, 1974) is a Syrian composer, singer, virtuoso oud player, and actor. He is one of the most important names of twentieth century Arab music. Farid was born in Syria to a Druze princely family who fought the French Colonial armies. In the mid 1920s he moved with his family to Egypt escaping the French occupation, later on they were naturalized by the Egyptian government. Farid’s mother sang and played the oud, which spurred his musical interest at an early age. As a child and young adult, Farid sang in school events. He studied in a music conservatory and became an apprentice of the renowned composer Riyad as-Sunbaty. In the 1930’s, Farid began his professional singing career by working for privately owned Egyptian radio stations. Eventually, he was hired as an oud player for the national radio station and later as a singer. His sister, Asmahan, was also a talented singer, and for a while they worked together. In 1941, they starred in their first successful movie, in which Farid himself composed all the music. Farid had a long and colorful music career lasting four decades. His talent was musically diverse, as he was a highly regarded composer, singer, and instrumentalist. His composing and singing style cannot easily be defined, as his music and voice could vary greatly from song to song. Farid maintained that although some of his music had western musical influence, he always stayed true to Arab music principles. Although the majority of his compositions were romantic love songs, he also composed several patriotic, belly dance, religious songs. Some of the most famous songs include "Rabeeh", "Awal Hamsa", "Hekayat Gharami", "Albi Wa Moftaho", "Gamil Gamal", "Wayak", "Ya Zahratan Fi Khayali", "Busat Ir Rih", "Ya Gamil Ya Gamil", "Ya Habaybi Ya Ghaybeen", "Eish Inta". One of Farid's most unique and distinguishable traits was his voice. High and mellow at the start of his career, it evolved into a wider, deeper sound. A person not familiar with his work would find it hard to believe the singer in "Ya Reitni Tir" (1930s) and "Adnaytani Bil Hajr" (1960s) were the same singer. His singing style was deeply passionate, and depending on the mood of the song, the sound of his voice would vary greatly. Throughout his singing career, he was admired for his vocal range and singing ability. Many of his songs, and nearly all of his concerts, Farid would sing a mawal, or voice improvisation of a few poetic lines. These improvisations sometimes lasted up to 15 minutes. The mawal was a favorite of his fans, as his musical creativity and vocal ability were on highest display. Farid starred in 31 Egyptian musical films from 1941 - 1974. His last movie, Nagham Fi Hayati, was released after his death. All his films except the last two were black and white. They ranged from comedies to dramas, or a combination. Farid composed all the songs in his movies, including the songs sung by other singers, and instrumentals (usually belly dance routines). His earlier films would include approximately ten songs, but overall the films would average about five songs each. Some of Farid's famous movies include Intisar al-Shabab, Yom Bila Ghad, Ahd el-Hawa, and Lahn al-Kholoud. Farid suffered from heart problems throughout his last 30 years. In the last few years of his life, he became physically thinner, and his singing voice became raspy as his sickness intensified. Although he was struggling with his health, he continued to make movies and perform in concerts until he died. On December 26, 1974, Farid died in Beirut in Al Hayek hospital. Farid is buried in Cairo, Egypt along side his sister and brother. Over his lifetime, Farid starred in 31 movies and recorded approximately 350 songs. He also composed music for such famous singers as Wadih El-Safi, Shadia, Warda, and Sabah. Farid El Atrache has left a legacy to Arabic music. He is considered by Arab musicians as the best oud player of all time (a.k.a. King of The Oud). His songs are still popularly used in many belly dance routines today. His voice and sad singing style was so unique and popular that Farid is still one of the most imitated singers. Composers consider Farid a leader in his field.

Najeeb Shaheen Born and schooled in Haifa, Najeeb started playing the oud at a tender age. His father, the late Hikmat Shaheen, was an accomplished oud player, singer, and music teacher. His grandfather was cantor at the local church. After the 1967 war, Najeeb immigrated to the United States where he attended college. For decades, he has been performing nationally and internationally. Najeeb grew up listening and playing famous and less known composition by the great Farid El-Atrache and considers him on of his favorites. Farid is one of the most prominent Oud players of the twentieth century whose style has influenced generations of players. It is no wonder that through the Oud that Najeeb will interpret Farid's great art.

Last updated: 2007-09-12 07:08:10

Farid El-Atrache
Farid El-Atrache

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