A week of low-key culture looms over Baabdat

BAABDAT: The Metn town of Baabdat has been organizing cultural weeks each August for the past six years. These have been much more low-key events than the high-concept summer festivals – whose season closed last week at Beiteddine.

The 2012 edition of Baabdat Cultural Week is scheduled to open Monday and run through to the following weekend, offering a diverse program for adults and youngsters alike. For this week a photo exhibition, dance workshops and concerts will transform the town into a platform for the arts.

For the duration of the week, the Municipality of Baabdat will host an exhibition of work by Lebanese photographer Charbel Bouez.

Habitués of the Beirut gallery scene may recall “Audace,” an exhibition of over 100 of Bouez’s photographs last April at the Venue in Beirut Souks. That show featured his shots of anonymous rural landscapes but he has also done portrait work. No doubt one or the other will be on view at Baabdat.

One of the features of Baabdat’s Cultural Week, Baabdat Mayor Imad Labaki told The Daily Star, is the municipality’s yearly “tribute to someone from the village.” This year, an homage will be made to Sister Paul Germaine Qarbani, who spent 50 years of her life working among disadvantaged people in Sudan.

For many years Qarbani taught at the town’s Besancon School and on Aug. 6 the town choir will honor her with a concert in the school.

Several other concerts are scheduled.

Zahle-born vocalist Pascale Sakr, who has been much influenced by the work of the Rahbani brothers, is scheduled to perform a program of traditional songs at the Metn Garden on Aug. 7.

The Metn Garden is also the venue of an Aug. 10 performance by the “Sawt el Atik” Choir who promises a program sampling the oeuvre of the Rahbani brothers as well as the tunes of Lebanese composer and musician Philemon Wehbe. This choir was founded by Father Milad Torbey in a convent in Zouk Mosbeh, aiming at reviving the Maronite and Syriac liturgies. Their chosen repertoire will be a selection of old and traditional folklore tunes, accompanied by soloist Carla Ramia.

For those keen on jazz, a special “Live American Jazz Music” night is scheduled for Aug 9. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the arrival of the Armenian community in the town, saxophonist Avo Tutunjian promises to escort his audience through a program of rhythmic jazz. In this he’ll be accompanied by pianist Fadi Farah, contrabassist Makram Abou El-Hessen, drummer Wissam Sawaya and veteran U.S. saxophonist Tom Hornig.

On the sidelines, tango professional Mark Samuel will be offering workshops to anyone eager to acquire or improve their skills in this esoteric form. Samuel founded “Milonga Lebanon” in 2004 to promote tango to Lebanon and the Middle East. He promises to be on hand on Aug. 10-11 to give advice on techniques for good posture, linear and circular movements, practical steps and turns.

Once the workshopping is done on Aug. 11, the Baabdat Cultural Week will come to a festive end with a tango night, which promises to allow folks a chance to show off what they’ve learned from the maestro.

Baabdat hasn’t forgotten its children. “Cassetou Toufou,” a play for children, has been scheduled for Aug. 11 at Samer Abou Rizk Theater in Ecole du St. Enfant Jesus. The show follows the adventures of Louna and her friends, who have as a mission to spring clean Nature, so that the trees can grow the fruit needed to heal her sick grandfather.

All the week’s events at the 2012 Baabdat Cultural Week, Labaki enthused, are free of charge.

The Baabdat Cultural Week will take place on Aug. 6-11. For more information, please call 03-251-862.





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