Arab Music in the Ravenna International Festival [Archives:1999/35/Culture]

August 30 1999

Saleh Abdulbaqi 
Cultural Editor 
It was great, this is the easiest expression by which I can describe the unforgettable Arab musical manifestation in the Ravenna Festival which started on June 23rd, 1999. Halls dedicated to the Eastern Arts were crowded with the Italian audience who were impressed by the elegant performance of the Arab musicians, singers and dancers coming from Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and Tunisia. In spite of this, a small number of the Arab participants were able to draw a beautiful picture of Arab music in the eyes of all the audience in the festival which was also attended by many other participants from Asia, Europe, America and Africa. 
In fact, this festival which is held yearly in Europe can be considered as a living exhibition for the peoples’ music and cultures. Participants as well as the audience get the best chance ever to enjoy the various magnificent cultures of the other countries. In their part, the Arab participants did their best to successfully present the Eastern music with its rhythm, meter and scales. Though they were ignorant of the meaning, the audience enjoyed and danced the Arab songs. Music was the prevailing language and means of communication among those chanced to be their. 
The Arab participation was initiated by the Iraqi famous Oud player, Nassr Shamma and Randa Abu Murad and his 
band, which was distinguished by the Arab musical instruments that were unknown to the European audience. The great Tunisian singer, Lutfi Bushnaq accompanied by his own Oud presented some sweet religious chants (Mwashahat) and Tunisian songs. Though it was the first time for them to participate in this festival, the Yemeni participants could mark this a success. 
Among the musical instrument brought by the Arab bands, the Oud attracted most of the audience. Many of them came and asked us about it and its characteristics. 
This big event will lead the Yemeni artists for further international participations in which they will choose the more Arab advanced instruments in order to reflect the Yemeni musical heritage.