Omer Khairat’s work is not timeless, it is timeless.
The 74-year-old pianist is synonymous with some of the greatest Egyptian cinema, including: Lylat Al Kabud Ala Fatima (The night they arrested Fatima) 1984 and 1994s terroristwas a pan-Arab hit. His latest concerts at Dubai His Opera on Fridays and Saturdays are therefore likely to be nostalgic affairs, with fans often humming along to wistful melodies.
Khairat, who performed as part of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s fifth anniversary last year, said he doesn’t mind sticking to his vintage materials.
In 2019 he released the album Egyptian Music Vol.2 composed the soundtrack for an action movie El Mamar.
“I could have done more recordings, but I’m happy to dedicate this phase of my career to concerts,” he says. The National“Music really speaks to people and reminds them of a simpler, happier time in their life.”
But it would be unfair to describe the Hylat concert as a mere retelling.
Through his work in television and film, Khairat helped introduce classical music into Egyptian popular culture with his region-based and sophisticated productions.
“I didn’t want to lose my Arab identity with my music,” he says. “Not only is it important to me personally, but the music in our part of the world is so rich and diverse that it can easily be mixed with other Western forms.”
It’s a skill he honed at the Cairo Conservatory of Music, founded in 1959 by his uncle and revered composer Abu Bakr Khayrat.
That classical education matched Khairat’s evening gigs as the drummer for the influential Egyptian rock band Les Petits Chats.
Formed in 1967, the group amassed a cult underground following Egypt and the Levant, and was the subject of a self-titled documentary in 2015.
Khairat is energized by the mention of Les Petits Chats, recalling an experience as important to his development as the tenuous environment of the conservatory.
“I was studying piano and drums in a band,” he says.
“As a composer, it taught me how to connect different genres, which helped me to understand more the structure of composition and the importance of melody.”
That knowledge is prevalent in Kailert’s work, which features a controlled and measured representation of Western classical music with the free-flowing musical styles found in the East.
in his 1984 song Fatmaclassical piano is juxtaposed with heavy Arab percussion and oud folk sounds. 100 years of cinema (1986) He puts everything on the mixer, adding funk and Latin grooves to Levanto rhythms.
His formal training sets in his quest to build a “global sound that is also decidedly Arab”, so he fears such rigorous training will be a thing of the past. I’m here.
He says today’s artists mostly rely on sheer talent alone.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s very important, but ultimately not enough,” he says.
“Having something backed by a deep and rich knowledge of music is also a tool to develop it. doing.
Although his concern for the future is well-meaning, Khairat is happy to have done his part to show the way forward.
For this reason, the composer says that now he spends the best time of his life on stage, playing classical music.
“It’s something that inspires me every night to be on stage and see people’s faces,” he says. ”
Omar Khairat will perform at Dubai Opera on Friday and Saturday at 9pm. Tickets starting with Dh295 are available at: www.dubaiopera.com
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Updated: February 2, 2023, 3:05 AM