Crazy piano, spiritual dance and electroacoustic improvisations soon in Baalbeck

At the Arab World Institute, a concert was held on December 2 by eight artists, brought together by Simon Ghraichy, who chose to offer their work and artistic talents to support the Baalbeck Festival. This event was born on the initiative of the virtuoso pianist, under the high patronage of François Hollande, within the framework of the Li Beirut initiative of Unesco and in the presence of Nayla de Freige, president of the festival. Simon Ghraichy had wished, at the end of a show both varied in its proposals and coherent in its artistic requirement, to be able to participate in the great festival of the Bekaa and he kept his promise, after the invitation of Nayla de Freige . And it is with the musician Jacopo Baboni Schilingi and the dancer Rana Gorgani that he will go on stage on July 17.

Currently in New York for a concert tour in Vermont, as part of the Killington Music Festival, the one who is easily recognized thanks to his crazy curly haircut shares his enthusiasm to be able to resume a sustained rhythm of concerts. “After the Covid, this year required readapting physically, intellectually, in terms of endurance, to resume the life I chose, made of travel, sharing with the public and demanding. On July 8, I will participate in the Toulouse Festival, in the Raymond VI garden, behind the ramparts. From July 16, I will be in Lebanon: this concert project was close to my heart, it is my roots that speak. I was very worried about the chain of crises in Lebanon, health, political, economic and social, and I was concerned for the cultural institutions, they are the ones that support the people in times of crisis, by allowing escape and take your mind off things”, confides the man who, with Rana Gorgani and Jacopo Baboni Schilingi, has built a unified program around the piano. Without intermission, the proposed show will combine linear and circular progressions. “Rana and Jacopo’s collaboration will amplify what happens on the piano. The musical choice, combined with the continuous performance of the whirling dervish, favored rotating, minimalist, impressionistic pieces, and one has the impression that the movement of the dance is exacerbated and amplified through its whirlings”, announces Simon Ghraichy, who has worked with the Franco-Iranian dancer for years. “It’s a joint creation, adds Rana Gorgani, we had a whole reflection around the architecture of the Baalbeck site, its history, its light. Moreover, my costumes, the colors, the shapes, the veils, the choreography will also be in tune with my readings of this age-old space, in their symbolic dimension. Traditionally, it is a spiritual, meditative dance, linked to prayer, and it is lived on sacred songs, which are repetitive. Thus, the most suitable pieces are built on loops, we hear a spiral through the notes. The repetition goes with the whirling and the melody must be ascending”, explains the one who discovered Sufi dance when she was a teenager, during a trip to Iran.

The musician Jacopo Baboni Schilingi. Photo T. Tairadate

From electroacoustic bridges to spiritual dance

The concert will unfold an uninterrupted musical line, unified by the creations of Jacopo Baboni Schilingi who will slide the different pieces offered on the piano one after the other. “It is Jacopo’s interludes, veritable electroacoustic bridges, partly composed in advance and partly mixed on site from what I will have played before, which will make the link between the pieces, to give them a grandiose dimension, explosive and more intense. For example, he will mix the last notes of my Bach piece, which will extend through the electronic sounds to gradually metamorphose and take us to the next work,” explains Simon Ghraichy. On the program, Bach, Albéniz, Granados and minimalist works, such as those of Philip Glass or Michael Nyman.

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The Sufi dancer seems eager to discover how her performance will be influenced by the unique place that is the ruins of Baalbek. “It will not be about danced interventions, but about a real show during which I will constantly turn, and the place will necessarily play on the level of energy, intensity, because the Sufi dance raises spiritual, whether the music is religious or not. Some tracks don’t lend themselves to it, some just deserve to be listened to in an empty space, even if the dance isn’t there to fill a void. Sometimes I reveal this void through dance, and sometimes I let the sound live. We imagined the concert with a time when I am not necessarily present, but where I am all the same, by the trace”, analyzes the dancer, who particularly appreciates classical music. “I am currently working with an Iranian classical opera singer, Ariana Vafadari. In September, we will be on stage for two festivals, Arabesques on the one hand in Montpellier and Émergences, in Paris. With Simon, the piano is my heart instrument, and with Ariana, it will be the voice. I will also take part in Pierre Thilloy’s SAMĀ project, a show where a symphony orchestra meets Sufi dance,” predicts the whirling dervish after her Lebanese show.

Simon Ghraichy, virtuoso pianist. Photo DR

Simon, his notes, his outfits, his ideals

Simon Ghraichy’s sense of attire is unstoppable, which he does not hide. “Today, being a modern and complete artist means living with the times, and it’s not because I play works by Bach that I have to look like him. My outfits are inspired by the spirit of the times, each concert is different and I have a large dressing room! I don’t know yet what I’m going to wear in Baalbeck, but there will be two essential elements, elegance, out of respect for those who came to listen to me, and the little personal detail, the one that will make this outfit not will not be the same if someone else wears it, an element of the order of the intimate, which is not of the order of cross-dressing, because it corresponds to me”, explains the pianist who seems to have found a unusual balance between excellence and accessibility. “It is the future of classical music that is at stake, it is timeless and adaptable to all eras. To associate it with a cheesy dimension, including tuxedo, white shirt and elderly audience is not tenable for the future. We live in a world that is changing, we are in the process of redefining the links between us, at the social, political, artistic levels… The main concern is the dissemination of art to as many people as possible. Sometimes it’s through a look, a haircut or a communication angle that can speak to a wider audience, without however distorting either the works or my artistic approach, through which I seek excellence. This work must be passed on to society, which will come to listen to us and take an interest in us, otherwise it’s wasted work,” concludes the pianist, who will surely enchant the golden stones of Baalbeck.

Big kick-off on Friday July 8

After two years of absence of face-to-face shows, the Baalbeck Festival signs its big comeback with four evenings under the slogan “We Are ALive” to celebrate life and the return to live. The kick-off will be given this Friday, July 8, with an inaugural evening on the steps of the temple of Bacchus given by maestro Loubnan Baalbaki and singer Soumaya Baalbaki, accompanied by an orchestra of more than 35 musicians as well as the choir of Our Lady of Louaïzé. A key figure on the Arab independent music scene, the Adonis quartet, a Lebanese indie-pop group known for their iconic Arabic texts and breathtaking live performances, will take over the stage on Sunday July 10. Perfectly combining the most traditional flamenco with the sounds of jazz, José Quevedo’s show “Bolita” promises a great evening of flamenco-jazz on Monday July 11. Quevedo will be accompanied by artists Rafael de Utrera on “cante” and Carlos Merino on percussion for a concert in collaboration with the Spanish Embassy. July 17, closing in style with the original show, specially designed for Baalbeck, combining different musical styles by Simon Ghraichy, virtuoso pianist with dancer Rana Gorgani and musician Jacopo Baboni Schilingi.

Ticket office in all branches of the Antoine bookshop as well as at the entrance to the acropolis of Baalbeck. Bus transport also available at the Antoine bookshop.

Such. : +961 1 697310, ext. : 260.

At the Arab World Institute, a concert was held on December 2 by eight artists, brought together by Simon Ghraichy, who chose to offer their work and artistic talents to support the Baalbeck Festival. This event was born on the initiative of the virtuoso pianist, under the high patronage of François Hollande, as part of the Li Beirut initiative…

Crazy piano, spiritual dance and electroacoustic improvisations soon in Baalbeck