The Byblos International Festival program was unveiled Tuesday to reveal the strong lineup of international talent scheduled to perform. Running from early July to early August, the coastal town’s jam-packed seven-event festival promises everything from jazz to Lebanese pop of yesteryear, from reggae princeling Julian Marley to Teutonic alt-rockers Milky Chance and Sir Elton John.
In what Byblos is touting as the biggest music event of 2017, the British superstar will perform a concert in the pre-Christmas season, Dec. 10, at the Forum de Beyrouth. Part of his “Wonderful Crazy Night” tour, Sir Elton John will appear with his full ensemble and is expected to perform such 20th-century classics as “Your Song,” “Rocket Man,” “Candle in the Wind,” and “I’m Still Standing.”
Before Elton John, though, there is a broad summer season program to be enjoyed.
The Byblos festival springs to life Monday July 3 with American pop legend Sean Paul, performing his unique blend of dance and rhythm and blues hits. It’s said his concert will include dancers, special effects and all-time hits like “Temperature,” “She Doesn’t Mind” and “No Lie.”
Next to grace the seaside stage, on July 16, will be “Nasri wa Philemon Fil Bal,” a dance-strewn musical theater extravaganza directed by Marwan Rahbani and hosted by theater veteran Rafic Ali Ahmad. A tribute to the life and work of performer Nasri Shamseddine and composer Philemon Wehbe, the play will be conducted by Ghadi Rahbani, with Oussama Rahbani on piano.
In what is sure to be a grand celebration of Lebanese musical heritage Lebanon’s Ghassan Saliba and Morocco’s Asma Lmnawar and Bissima will also sing and dance across the boards over the course of the evening.
Old Byblos will echo with the mellow sounds of the Caribbean July 19, when Julian Marley and the Uprising are expected to belt out some favorite reggae tunes from the past decade. A son of Jamaican musical and pop culture legend Bob Marley, Julian will sample such hits as “Get Up, Stand Up,” “Is This Love” and “No Woman, No Cry” along with a smattering of his own tunes.
Jazz fans are sure to be delighted when Grammy Award-winning American vocalist Patti Austin takes the stage with her special tribute to the First Lady of Jazz Ella Fitzgerald.
In this timeless show, scheduled for July 21, festival programmers announced that Austin will perform some of Fitzgerald’s greatest hits – “Mack the Knife,” “How High the Moon,” “Mr. Paganini” to name just a few. Few performers have the power and range to fill Fitzgerald’s vocal shoes so Austin’s will be among the most hotly anticipated performances of the summer season.
Byblos will quicken the pace on July 24 as German alternative rock darling Milky Chance comes to town with a selection of the haunting electronica-folk songs that have endeared them to their fans – titles like “Stolen Dance” and “Down by the River.” Milky Chance is currently headlining some of the world’s biggest festivals showcasing their recently released album “Cocoon” and other beloved tunes from their debut album “Sadnecessary.”
Lebanese-born Spanish violinist Ara Malikian will take possession of the stage on July 27 with “The Incredible Story of Violin,” a widely promoted show that, as the festival programmers point out, mingles the music of Vivaldi with that of Radiohead and Led Zeppelin. Known for his dynamic stage presence and compositions that feature a unique blend of classical music with pop and rock, Malikian’s show will see him head a nine-musician ensemble.
The Byblos International Festival concludes Aug. 4 with M. Pokora, who is among the Gallic music scene’s top-selling French artists. After topping the charts for the past five years, Pokora’s new show “My Way” is a pageant-like tribute to the late Claude Fancios that promises to feature 20 costumed dancers and musicians.
This is an exceptional performance for lovers of French music, whom, it is widely expected will dance and sing along to hits like “Alexandrie, Alexandra,” “Cette année-là” or “Comme d’habitude.”
For more information on the Byblos International Festival, see http://www.byblosfestival.org
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