"Something Is Happening": Fairuz and Ziad Al Rahbani
|Fawaz Traboulsi, Hanan Kassab Hassan, Zuhair
In celebration of its fourth anniversary, the Anis Makdisi Program in
Literature hosted a three-day forum on the rich and diverse music of famous
Lebanese singer Fairuz and her son, composer Ziad Rahbani. Held April
27-30 in West Hall's Bathish Auditorium, the forum brought together renowned
Lebanese cultural critics and scholars, who introduced the audience to
the history of Fairuz and Ziad, who have been collaborating for more than
three decades. The forum was titled "Something is Happening,"
which is the name of one of Fairuz's most touching songs.
Historian and political scientist Fawwaz Traboulsi discussed the social
and literary aspects of Fairuz's songs, after which a video clip of her
earlier vocals was shown. Hanan Kassab Hassan, a literary critic, talked
about her memories of Fairuz, saying, "I cannot discuss her without
being nostalgic. Whenever I hear her music, I am reminded of the city
and the countryside, Damascus and Beirut." Day one ended with an
open discussion of the Fairuz-Ziad collaboration.
The last two days of the forum were dedicated to the modernity in the
songs and music of Fairuz and Ziad. Kent Habib discussed the fusion of
jazz and oriental music that resulted from Ziad's Western influence and
Eastern upbringing. "Ziad was capable of mixing the two cultures
without losing his originality. He gave a personal touch to this fusion,"
Ziad's sound engineer, Zuhair Samhoun, touched upon the personal aspects
of the work of Ziad and Fairuz. He discussed his work alongside that of
the duo, focusing on their interactions in the studio. "At first,
Fairuz was uncomfortable working with Ziad, but with time, the two were
able to work harmoniously together," Samhoun revealed.
Other speakers included Father Badih el Hajj, who touched on the liturgical
and folkloric aspects of the Fairuz and Ziad music; Nidal Abi Samra, who
discussed the works of Assi Rahbani, Ziad's father; and Roni Barak, who
gave a short lecture on his experience with Fairuz and Ziad. On Sunday,
the last day, Culture Minister Tarek Mitri headed a roundtable discussion
with several art critics to sum up the event.