Musica 2 Festival in Beirut


This spring (March 2008) Make Music Not War and IRAB brought a rich selection of contemporary Oriental music artists to the Lebanese public with the Musica 2 Festival. Unlike most festivals in Beirut, Musica 2 is aimed at citizens rather than tourists, and entrance fees were kept as low as possible in order to allow broad public participation.

Lebanon is still rebuilding and reconstructing after the devastating summer bombings by Israel in 2006, and the festival serves as a cultural beacon for the resilient residents of Beirut.

Marwan Abado

Marwan AbadoMarwan Abado is a Palestinian singer, composer, and oud player whose music has its roots in classical Arabic music and contemporary Arabic poetry and prose, performed for an audience of over 500 on March 7, 2008. Born a refugee in Lebanon, he later moved to Austria to continue his studies and now resides there. He has released five CDs and has toured throughout the Arab world and Europe.

Deliberately distancing himself from the genre of didactic protest songs that raise a scolding finger to the audience, Abado chooses a poetic register for his songs, whose themes fall somewhere between lamenting sorrow and courageous hope. His music is an improvisational mix of Oriental forms and Western elements. During the concert, Abado performed non-vocal musical pieces as well as a number of folk Palestinian songs. In a review of the concert, a reporter from Reuters wrote:

"He stores in his oud the memory of a people scattered over all the corners of Earth awaiting the dream of return, releasing a musical cry from Beirut, torn by its political crisis, to Gaza, draining with the blood of her children."

Listen to Marwan Abado »

Rami Khalife

Rami KhalifeOn March 26th Rami Khalife played at the Assembly Hall of the American University of Beirut to an estimated audience of 450 people. Rami Khalife is an accomplished virtuoso pianist who graduated from the prestigious Juilliard School of Music New York, and studied under the mentorship of the Hungarian pianist Gyorgy Sandor.

Khalife is the son of Marcel Khalife, a progressive Lebanese composer, singer, and oud player, widely known throughout the Arab world and internationally for his poetic music and commitment to the struggles of Palestinians and Southern Lebanese against the Israeli occupation of their lands. In "Chaos", Khalife mixes a selection of Chopin's "Etudes" with his own sheet that he composed in Paris during the summer of 2006 in effort to sublimate the trauma he experienced during the 34-day Israeli air and sea bombardment of Lebanon.

"Khalife's approach to generating music from the piano makes his performance an intensely physical one and this composition makes full use of the instrument," wrote the leading English daily The Daily Star in its review of the concert.

Listen to Rami Khalife »


By promoting these artists, IRAB hopes to help nurture Beirut as a vibrant cultural center. IRAB was founded in 2003 to promote the cultural heritage and promote the contemporary production of Oriental music (defined as including the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, and Turkey). As part of its preservation efforts, the organization has created an archive with more than 10,000 hours of recordings that, along with books and periodicals, will form the core of a new IRAB music library.

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