Will Egyptian Ashraf Sewallam's weekend revolutionary recital falter or carry a perfect vibrato?

Published January 6th, 2013 - 02:29 GMT
Ashraf Sewailam
Ashraf Sewailam

On Saturday 12 January, the internationally-renowned, Egyptian bass-baritone and activist, Ashraf Sewailam, will give a solo recital at Cairo's German Evangelical Church, performing a number of songs in Egypt for the first time.

Sewailam is currently based in the US but since he left Egypt to the US he has returned on a regular basis, participating in operas staged in Cairo and Alexandria. On Saturday, 12 January he will sing in the German Evangelical Church in Cairo in his first solo recital in Egypt since 2001.

The evening will include Vier ernste Gesänga and The Four Serious Songs by Johannes Brahms; Quatre chansons de Don Quichotte by Jaques Ibert; an aria from Richard Wagner's Lohengrin as well as a number of Sewailam's favorites, such as Old American Songs by Aaron Copland, arias from Street Scene by Kurt Weil, Show Boat by Jerome Kerns, and an opening set with Bach and Handel.

Suweilam graduated as an architect from Cairo University's Faculty of Engineering in 1990. He started taking voice lessons in late 1980 and studied privately with Raouf Zaidan. Sewailam continued his academic studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder where he received his bachelors, masters and finally doctorate degree in 2008.

Between 1990 and 2003, Suweilam was a member of the Cairo Opera Company. His international debut was in 2007 at the Lincoln Centre's Avery Fisher Hall. Since then his international appearances include operatic performances with the Seattle Opera, Opera Southwest (New Mexico), Virginia Opera, New Zealand Opera among a number of others.

Apart of his operatic commitments, Ashraf Sewailam is known as the voice of Mickey Mouse in Arabic version of Disney cartoon character.

Currently residing in the US, Sewailam is also politically active. He participated in Egyptian protests outside of Egypt, specifically in New York. Sewailam is recognised as the "Egyptian anthem singer" across all protests, recalled by many from the protests that took place at Times Square in February 2011. As political activits in the Arab Spring, Sewailam gave commentories on the political situation in Egypt, for example, in New Zealand's Live News.

Sewailam's solo recital in Cairo will be accompanied by David Hales on piano.

© Copyright Al-Ahram Publishing House

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