News: April 22 2015 | 15:00 PM

Daily Star| ‘We are all Baalbek,’ festival organizer says

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After last year’s Baalbeck International Festival was disrupted by the shaky security situation in east Lebanon in the wake of the opening concerts, subsequent performances were canceled or moved to the Casino du Liban at the last minute. This year, the festival’s staunch supporters will be happy to hear that organizers plan to return to Baalbek. Last week organizers announced plans for a specially commissioned opening performance honoring the city, entitled “Ilik Ya Baalbak.” Head of the festival’s organizing committee Nayla de Freije spoke to The Daily Star about the opening and the festival’s upcoming 60th anniversary.
“It’s a tribute to Baalbek – the town, the people, the temples, everything,” she said. “We thought that it was important to do something for Baalbek – a Lebanese creation. The idea came but we were not sure that the dream would happen. ... We thought it might be difficult to convince 19 artists to participate in this collective but in fact it was not difficult at all, because the answer was immediately positive.”

The performance consists of music, vocals and poetry written by well-known artists including Adonis, Etel Adnan, Wajdi Mouawad, Abdel Rahman El Bacha, Marcel Khalife and Ibrahim Maalouf. With Rabih Keyrouz designing the costumes, “Ilik Ya Baalbak” promises to be a performance to remember. Scheduled for July 31, it will launch a full program set to be announced in May.

De Freije said the committee hopes to stage the full program of events in Baalbek this year, adding that the area has been calmer since the implementation of the security plan. “Of the course the situation is difficult, it’s not only those last two years,” she admits. “But we are approaching our 60th anniversary and it is very important. We think that we have to do something for Baalbek, to break the spell and to state loudly that we are all Baalbek.”

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