Oxford Maqam at City

On 14th May 2013, the Centre for Music Studies was delighted to welcome the group Oxford Maqam, The Madeleine Quartet and members of the King’s College London Big Band to perform the rarely heard operetta Majnoun Laila by Egyptian composer and singer Abd al-Wahhab (1902-91), together with songs from the 1950s and 60s by another prominent singer, Abd al-Halim Hafez (1929-77).

Oxford Maqam is led by Professor Martin Stokes, King’s College London, who also presented a pre-concert talk with band members Tarik Beshir and Yara Salahideen, about the reconstruction of Majnoun Lailla and some of the performance issues raised: ‘The performance is an unusual attempt to restore some elements of the revolutionary soundworld of the early recordings, one that has long since disappeared in Egyptian contemporary performance practice’.

Despite the heavy rain that evening, the musicians performed to a packed Performance Space, bringing in many people from outside City interested in Egyptian music of the early to mid-20th century.