Baalbeck International Festival's lineup is music to our ears!

Published April 27th, 2017 - 06:52 GMT
Let the celebrations begin. (Facebook)
Let the celebrations begin. (Facebook)

From classical compositions to ’80s rock’n’roll, this year’s Baalbeck International Festival offers Lebanese music lovers a chance to hear both lifelong favorites and new types of music. The exciting lineup of artists will showcase a wide array of music styles, classic hits and recent material. Some artists have specially crafted their performances for the festival and their Lebanese fans.

Although concerns about security saw performances relocated in 2015, organizers this year believe that an increased security presence in the area will allow the festival to run uninterrupted.

Lebanese Nights, the festival’s opening performance, has traditionally showcased Lebanese artists, and this year is no exception. The festival has offered numerous young performers a chance to strut their stuff in what has been titled “The New Generation, Celebrating The Lebanese Nights” during the two-day opening event on the Bacchus Temple steps July 7 and 9.

This year’s Lebanese Nights lineup includes singers Rami Ayache, Aline Lahoud and Brigitte Yaghi.

The festival’s 2017 program suggests the performances will pay homage to the artists’ heritage by singing both classic songs from the past and contemporary repertoire.

The music returns on July 15 with Angelique Kidjo, a world-renowned singer, songwriter and three-time Grammy Award winner from Benin, Africa. A powerful performer and highly respected artist, Kidjo has been named among the “100 most inspiring women in the world” by the Guardian. Forbes Magazine placed her among “Africa’s 100 most influential women.”

She has arranged a unique, one-of-a-kind performance for the Baalbeck International Festival, blending jazz and world music, paying tribute to three iconic singers, Celia Cruz, Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba, throughout the night.

The third weekend of the festival, Saturday July 22, will bring Ibrahim Maalouf back to the stage. It will be the trumpeter-composer’s third time performing at the festival, where he has impressed listeners with his unmatched talent and unique compositions incorporating Arabic music styles, quarter tones and all.

Maalouf was awarded the Victoire de la musique in the world music category for his 2014 album “Illusions.” He was awarded the Victoire de la musique again this year for his Red & Black Light tour.

The festival says Maalouf has promised a special show conceived specifically for Baalbeck.

On July 30, the festival will continue with Trio Wanderer, one of the world’s foremost chamber ensembles with over 20 albums released.

As their name suggests, the group is composed of three members: Vincent Coq on piano, Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabedian on violin, and Raphael Pidoux on cello. The performance is a must-see for classical music lovers, as the trio’s music is acclaimed for its sensitive style and technical mastery. Trio Wanderer will perform some of their most awarded and beloved pieces at Baalbeck, including works by Rachmaninov, Dvorak and Schubert. The only group to play inside the Bacchus Temple this year, Trio Wanderer’s performance is guaranteed to be a one-of-a-kind experience for both first-time audiences and lifelong fans.

The festival will pick up the tempo on Aug. 4, as one of the most accomplished Arab singers of the last three decades comes to the stage, Moroccan-Egyptian pop artist Samira Said.

As is evident from her very popular series of albums “Inssani,” “Khaifa,” “Ashka,” “Enta Habibi,” “Kul Dee Eshaat,” “Ayam Hayati” and “Ayza Aaich,” Said is known for her seamless incorporation of classical tarab with new music styles like rai and jazz. She also topped charts with her highly successful album “Aweeni Beek,” which has sold more than 25 million copies. Said has promised to perform her biggest hits at Baalbeck.

The festival will end with a bang, or at least some good old-fashioned rock’n’roll. Undoubtedly a crowd-pleaser, U.S. rock band TOTO will close the festival with a highly anticipated performance on the Bacchus Temple steps on Aug. 15.

The band remains one of the world’s top-selling touring and recording acts, with over 40 years together, thousands of credits and, as Baalbeck points out, the biggest selling album in history – Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Fans will likely be singing along all night, as the band’s repertoire includes some of the biggest hits of all time, such as “Africa,” “Hold the Line” and “Stop Loving You.” At the festival, TOTO is set to perform both their classic hits as well as favorites from their latest album released in 2015, “TOTO XIV.” The album debuted in the top 10 lists of nine countries and became their most successful album since 1988 in the U.S. and U.K.

The Baalbeck International Festival will run early July to mid-August at Baalbeck’s Bacchus Temple.

By Elizabeth Kirk

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