SAIF 840 – A HISTORICAL EPIC MUSICAL PLAY BY MANSOUR RAHBANI
August 8, 2009 - 8:30 pm
Sat 08 till Wed 12 Aug 2009
It is the story of people eager for freedom and seeking to live in dignity; a story of resistance against repression, injustice, invaders and tyrans; a story of other’s war on our land. Isn’t history repeating itself?
- Historical epic musical play by Mansour Rahbani
- Written and composedby Mansour Rahbani
- Directed by Marwan Rahbani
- Co-Composed and orchestrated by Elias, Marwan, Ghady and Oussama Rahbani
- Co-produced by Byblos International Festival and Marwan, Ghady, Oussama Rahbani
- Ghassan Saliba
- Antoine Kerbage
- Hiba Tawaji
Mansour Rahbani was born in Antelias, in 1925, and grew up in an artistic environment. He studied successively at the Ibreen Sisters School of Antelias, the Farid Abou Fadel School, the Kamal Moukarzel School and the Jesuit School at Bikfaya. When his father died, Mansour was forced early on to face the bitter side of life, and joined Beirut’s judicial police when he was only seventeen years old. He received his first musical education on the hands of Father Paul el Ashkar, following which he studied Eastern music, musical scores, melodies, harmony, counterpoint, orchestration and musical analysis. Mansour was also thoroughly acquainted with rare and valuable references such as the Kamel el Khalay book, the compositions of El Kendy and El Faraby, and the Shehabiya research in Arab musical melodies.
Mansour studied for nine years under the guidance of Bertrand Robillard, who is considered to be the main catalyst which allowed the young Rahbani’s talent to shine through. In the words of the great composer Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Mansour’s musical gift changed the fate of Eastern music and song. During his musical education he collaborated with his brother Assi in creating the “Rahbani Brothers”. Striving together to overcome the limitations of selfishness and single-mindedness, they took their new artistic direction to the Lebanese Radio in 1945. It is a well-known fact that the delivery of a ‘Rahbanian’ song was not an easy task; however, it had the ability to face up to the strong current of the traditional song and heritage, which dominated the entirety of the Eastern World since the beginning of the twentieth century, through Salma Hegazi and Abdou El-Hamoli.
The two brothers went on to join the ranks of the Near East Radio, where they composed many artistic works as well as a series of sketches entitled “Sabeh and Makhoul”. When Assi Rahbani married Nouhad Haddad (also known as Fairuz) in 1955, the two brothers formed a new Rahbani trio with her. They would compose poems and songs, which Fairuz would sing with great prowess. The music of the Rahbani Brothers was inspired by the Arab, Islamic, Maronite and Byzantine musical traditions, in addition to Lebanese folklore, and they are deeply acquainted with western classical music.
As for the Rahbanian singing theatre, it is considered a unique form, which differs somewhat from the international standard for operas. Their special style, known as the ‘Rahbani Theatre’, focuses on the values of dignity, truth, gracefulness, and the depth of its philosophical subjects in order to concentrate on the three main subjects of God, the Human Being, and the Land.Taking the Piccadilly Theatre in Beirut as its springboard, the Rahbani Theatre flew to the entirety of the Arab world, and gave distinguished performances in Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, the Arab Emirates, Syria, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Libya, in addition to several artistic tours in the cities of London, Manchester, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, twelve American states and Canada.
The writings of the Rahbani Theatre are concerned with history, the country, the land, the future, and of course the fate of the poor and common people, with special emphasis on Lebanese folklore. The Rahbani Theatre also tackles the various socio-political problems of the Arab world, as shown in the Brothers’ numerous songs about the crises of Palestine and Algeria.
The Rahbani Theatre has succeeded in introducing a new generation of singers, who went on to become famous stars in the Arab world.
The Rahbani’s repertoire includes plays, poems and melodies that were introduced in the study programs of famous universities around the world, including the Sorbonne, Harvard, Oxford, as well as universities in Lebanon and the Arab world.
The Rahbani Brothers have also extended their activities to the world of cinema, and composed the music for three illustrious films: Biyaa el Khawatem (The Merchant of Rings), Safar Barlek (Exile), and Bent el Hares (The Guardian’s Daughter).
Following the death of his brother, Mansour Rahbani wrote and produced grand theatrical plays, including Summer 840, The Will, The Last Days of Socrates, He Rose on the 3rd Day, The Maronite Mass, Abu Tayeb al Mutanabbi, Moulouk al Tawaef, The Last Day, Hekm al Rehyan, Gibran and the Prophet, Zenobia and The Return of the Phoenix.
Oussama Rahbani was born in Antelias, in the suburbs of Beirut. His father Mansour Rahbani is a legend, a pioneer of Middle Eastern music, where tradition and creativity are in a continuous state of mingling.
Oussama began to study the piano in 1973, and gradually entered the world of composition. His mentor throughout all his years of apprenticeship was Hagop Arslanian. Oussama also attended two sessions at the Berklee College of Music, Boston, Mass., in 1990 and 1995 respectively.
Oussama Rahbani’s works
1986 He was one of the prime movers in Lebanon’s Jazz Renaissance. He was a member the Jazz Gate Group, and played in a succession of successful concerts including the Byblos Festival in 1987, the History of Jazz concert in 1987, and the Winter Concert in 1989.
1997-1998 He composed the soundtracks for the two feature films Al Awsaj and Al Mawt Al Kadem Ila Al Sharq, as well as for a number of documentary films.
2000 He composed, orchestrated and produced the musical play He Rose on the Third Day.
2001 He recorded the music for two NADEC Television commercials with the symphonic ensemble London Session Orchestra in London’s famous Abbey Road Studios.
He produced outstanding sessions for the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Nicolai Alexyev, for a special performance of Russian Night in Lebanon.
Along with his brother Ghady Rahbani, he produced a concert by the Ukraine State Symphonic Orchestra in Kiev, on the occasion of a unique Lebanese night. The program included a new orchestration and symphonic adaptation of two plays by the Rahbani Brothers, The Days of Fakhreddine and The Mount Sylex, as well as Mansour Rahbani’s play The Last Days of Socrates. The orchestra was conducted by Vladimir Sirenko.
2003 He produced Impressions du Liban, a concert by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Constantine Orbelian and playing musical pieces by Oussama and Ghady Rahbani.
2004 He composed, orchestrated and produced The Last Day, a musical play adapted from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. The play was choreographed by the famous Debbie Allen.
2004-2006 Oussama is the Honorary Consultant of the Star Academy music reality program, produced by TV station LBCI. He is responsible for giving candidates in “Ear Training and Musical Culture”, in addition to evaluating the ‘Primes’ held weekly for the candidates. The Star Academy program made Oussama even more popular among Middle Eastern audiences.
2005-2006 He composed, orchestrated and produced the play Gibran and the Prophet, based on the book The Prophet by celebrated Lebanese author Gibran Khalil Gibran. The legendary Mansour Rahbani was responsible for the play’s booklet and poetry. It was shown first during the Byblos International Festival, then again at the Beirut Forum with new staging. The play was directed by Oussama’s brother, Marwan Rahbani.
2006 He put the finishing touches to Synergy, a new album of classical music recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, conducted by Ion Marin. The album was made on the occasion of the opening of the Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
It consists of the following pieces: Symphonic image 1: Interlock / Symphonic image 2: Oriental Chivalry / Symphonic poem 1: Synergy. The last of these pieces, Symphonic poem: Synergy, was given its world premiere performance on July 18, 2006, at the V&A Museum, in the presence of his Royal Highness Prince Charles and dignitaries from all over the world.
Oussama Rahbani also held several conferences and seminars in various schools, universities and cultural entities around the world, on the theme of “Musical Culture”.
Oussama Rahbani’s albums
Rahbani feels very strongly with the sufferings of his people, and his works are meant to reflect the social and political dilemmas of his era.
His albums include Ghassan Meets Oussama, The New Order (sung by Laurette Helou and Carole Samaha), and Oussama Goes to the Theatre, which is a compilation of all his works for the theatre. In addition, he has also released the following soundtracks for TV series: The Thorn and Death Coming Towards the East.
Many of his songs were filmed as video-clips: ‘Our Story in this Society’, ‘Beirut Municipality’, ‘I’ve got to Change the System’, ‘This is Lebanon’… and received a highly enthusiastic response from his public.
He is planning to release on CD the music of his plays He Rose On The Third Day, The Last Day, Gibran and the Prophet (highlights and complete recordings), as well as the music for The Sources, a new TV series which will air soon.
In 1998, Oussama participated in the French Music Channel competition La Nuit des Clips Méditerrannéens, organized by MCM. Competing with over 250 video-clips from 13 Mediterranean countries, he won the award “Le Prix de l’Agence de la Francophonie, ACCT” for best video-clip.
Oussama Rahbani’s participations
Oussama’s first creations were contributions to musical plays Al Wasyah: The Will, by Mansour Rahbani and Al Inqilab: Coup d’Etat, written by his brothers Marwan and Ghady Rahbani. Other contributions include music for ballets by the Caracalla and Rimah dance troupes.
In 1997, Oussama worked with his father on his final masterpiece, The Last Days of Socrates. His talents as a composer and orchestra leader shone forth on this outstanding work, and gave birth to several memorable pieces. The music of the play was performed by the Kiev City Symphonic Orchestra.
He also contributed to the composition and orchestration of musical plays Al-Mutanabbi and Moulouk Al-Tawaef. More recently, Oussama also contributed to the orchestration of The Maronite Mass by Mansour Rahbani.
In 2004, he participated in the Rahbani play The Shepherds’ Reign as conductor, composer and orchestrator. In 2007, he contributed to the Mansour Rahbani epic musical play Zenobia as a composer, orchestrator and conductor.
In 2007, he participated in the Mansour Rahbani epic musical play Zenobia as a composer orchestrator and conductor.
In 2008, Oussama worked on The return of the Phœnix as a producer, composer, orchestrator and conductor.
All of the titles mentioned above have been released on CD.
Composer, writer, film and stage director and producer Marwan Rahbani was born in Antelias, Lebanon in 1958. Marwan studied music composition under the guidance of Master Hagob Arslanian. He took courses in the aesthetics of dramatic with the late Andre Gedeon, following which he moved to Paris, then Los Angeles, to complete a course in film direction. Upon graduation, Marwan soon immersed himself in theater direction; he worked with the late legend Assi Rahbani on several musical plays by the Rahbani brothers in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, France (the Olympia in Paris) and England (the Palladium in London).
He established Rahbani Productions in Lebanon in 1977, and moved to Dubai in 1989. The company specializes in the production of commercials, TV programs and documentaries. Rahbani Productions has recently embarked on a new venture, to provide on-flight entertainment for illustrious airlines.
Marwan Rahbani’s repertoire includes:
Film and Television
- He directed two films: Anything Wrong Miss, a short from 1975, and feature film End of Summer in 1979.
- He directed for television the following musical plays: Hello Beirut, Summer 840, The Will, Coup D’Etat, The Last Days of Socrates, Maronite Mass (in 2000), He Rose on the 3rd Day (2000), Abu Tayeb Al Moutanabbi (2001), Flags of Freedom (2002), The Nation and The Leader (2003), Pavarotti Concert (2003), and Kings of Communities (2003).
- He also directed over 120 TV features, including children’s shows, variety musicals, dramas, documentaries, and made well over 500 TV commercials.
His current catalogue includes more than 20 CD releases, widely available on the market, consisting of music composed with his brother Ghady Rahbani.
- Hello Beirut (Music-Hall), shown in Lebanon (1982), Libya (1984), Jordan (1984), Syria (1985), the United Arab Emirates (1985) and Kuwait (1986). Lawhat (Ballet), shown in London, 1987 / Credited as co-composer.
- Al Assifa: The Tempest (Ballet), 1988 / Credited as co-composer.
- Al Inqilab: Coup d’Etat (Musical play), shown in Lebanon (1995), Syria (1996) and the UAE (1996) / Credited as director, co-writer, and co-composer.
- The Last Days of Socrates (Musical Play), shown in Lebanon (1998), Egypt (Cairo’s Opera House, 1999) and Abu Dhabi (2000).
- The Voice, shown in Syria (Palais des Congres, 1998) / Credited as director and co-composer.
- Passage To Asia (Variety show), shown in Syria (Damascus International Fair, 1999) and Lebanon, 1999 / Credited as director and co-composer.
- The Maronite Mass (Concert), shown in Lebanon, 2000 / Credited as director.
- He Rose on the Third Day (Musical Play), shown in Lebanon, May 2000 / Credited as director.
Won the Said Akl Award for Best Director in August 2000, and the Golden Murex for Best Theater Director in June 2001.
- Abu Tayeb Al Mutanabbi (Musical Play), shown in Dubai (2001), Lebanon (Baalbeck Festival, 2001 / Beirut Forum, 2002), Syria (Palais des Congres, 2001), and the Kingdom of Jordan (2002).
- Flags of Freedom (Operette), shown in Bahrein (August 2002) / Credited as composer and director.
- The Nation and the Leader (Operette), shown in Qatar (2003) / Credited as director.
- Kings of Communities (Musical Play), shown in Lebanon (2003) / Credited as director.
- The Last Day (Musical Play), shown in Lebanon (2004) / Credited as director.
- Hekem al Rehyan (Musical Play), shown in Lebanon (2004) / Credited as director.
- Gibran and the Prophet (Musical Play), shown in Lebanon (Byblos Festival, 2005) / Credited as director.
- Zenobia (Musical Play), shown in Dubai (2007) / Credited as co-composer and director.
- The Return of the Phoenix (Musical Play), Director (Byblos Festival, 2008)
Author, composer, producer and orchestra leader Ghady Rahbani is Marwan’s and Oussama’s brother. He was born in Lebanon in 1960, where he studied composition, harmony and piano under the guidance of Hagop Arslanian for a period of ten years. In 1989 he founded Rahbani Productions in Dubai with his brother Marwan. He works with equal ease in various media, including TV, theatre and film.
Ghady Rahbani’s repertoire includes:
Theater and Ballet
- Hello Beirut (Theatrical show), 1982 / Credited as author and composer.
- Lawhat (Ballet), shown in London, 1987 / Credited as author and composer.
- Summer of 840, by Mansour Rahbani, 1987 / Credited as orchestrator and conductor.
- Al Wasyah: The Will by Mansour Rahbani, 1993 / Credited as co-orchestrator.
- Al Assifa: The Tempest , by Charles Sawaya (Ballet), 1994 / Credited as co-author and co-composer.
- Al Inqilab: Coup d’Etat, 1995 / Credited as author and composer.
- The Last Days of Socrates, by Mansour Rahbani, with the Kiev City Symphony Orchestra, 1998 / Credited as co-orchestrator, co-composer and conductor.
- Passage to Asia (Variety Show), 1999 / Credited as author and composer.
- He Rose on the Third Day, by Oussama Rahbani, 2000 / Credited as co-composer.
- The Maronite Mass, by Mansour Rahbani, 2000 / Credited as co-orchestrator and conductor.
Film and Television
- End of summer / 1980
- Artistic Visit / 1983, Ghady also wrote several social and educational programs for children, as well as TV documentaries that include:
- Escaping Moments
- The Memorial of Assi Rahbani’s Death (a biography of the Rahbani Brothers). Of the latter, 120 different episodes were made for TV.
Ghady wrote the lyrics for a number of songs, including ‘Our Story in Society’ and ‘I’ve Got to Change the System’ (whose video-clips were directed by Oussama Rahbani). He has also composed for classical orchestra and piano on several instances, and his illustrious quartet for strings and woodwinds was performed in Damascus and Cairo.
In the years 2001 and 2002, Ghady and his brother Oussama re-did the orchestration of several passages from the Rahbani Brothers’ musicals, and along with other Lebanese composers presented these re-interpretations as symphonic suites, as part of an elegant tribute to Lebanon’s musical heritage in two parts: Lebanese Night, with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, conducted by Vladimir Sirenko (2001), and Impressions from Lebanon, with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Constantine Orbelian (2002). In 2003, Ghady composed and wrote the orchestral parts for Kings of Communities. He also re-orchestrated some of the Rahbani Brothers’ songs with l’Orchestre de la Région de Tours, with maestro Jean Clement Jollet conducting. The pieces were performed in the ‘Niha’ and ‘Sourat’ festivals. In 2004, he contributed to Hekem al Rehyan and The Last Day by Oussama Rahbani, while 2005 was marked by his participation to Oussama Rahbani’s Gibran and the Prophet.
In 2007, Ghady co-composed, orchestrated and conceived the production for the musical play Zenobia.
In 2008 , Ghady co-composed and orchestrated The Return of the Phoenix.