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Byblos International Festival to Honor Nasri, Philemon | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Official Riverdance Audience seating for Riverdance
performances at Byblos International Festival. July 2010

Beirut- Lebanon’s “Byblos International Festival” joined its peers and called for tax reduction. Taxes imposed on the Lebanese festivals acquire 37 percent of their revenues. Organizers concerned about a new addition of taxes.

These concerns were expressed by the head of the International Byblos Festival Committee Latifa Lakkis during a press conference held Tuesday. She said that problems require an official intervention before the burdens aggravate and draw these festivals to an end.

The press conference was held to announce Byblos Festivals’ program for this summer. Tourism Minister Avedis Guidanian, the representative of the Culture Minister Ghattas Khoury, Mayor of Byblos Ziad Hawat, and Ghadi and Osama Al Rahbani attended the announcement.

Although all festivals complain about financial problems, a new festival emerges every day, Guidanian noted. He revealed that a draft-law on tax reduction has already been prepared and that he will make all efforts to submit it to the parliament.

Guidanian said the state’s financial performance should be enhanced. He also considered that this is not the responsibility of the festival organizers, and that foreign agents and artists who come to Lebanon and make profits should also pay taxes like they do in other countries.

This year’s festival is set to kick off on July 7, with a concert for US Pop Legend Sean Paul. Yet, unlike other years, Byblos will not conclude in August. The legend sir Elton John and his band will hold their first concert in Lebanon at the Forum de Beyrouth on December 10 as part of Byblos Festival. Of note, the artist had held a concert in Lebanon in 2001 but without his band.

The program of Byblos festival includes western music, except for a special dance-strewn musical theater extravaganza set to take place on July 16. Commenting on the musical themed “Nasri w Philemon Fil Bal”, Ghadi al-Rahbani said it is not only dedicated to honor and applaud performer Nasri Shamseddine and composer Philemon Wehbe, but also to recall their achievements.

He added that the event will introduce a highly-selected collection of the best songs performed by both artists.

The concert will see the participation of Ghassan Saliba and Basima from Lebanon, Asma Lmnawar from Morocco, and the star Rafiq Ali Ahmad from the Lebanese theatre. The selected songs will be recomposed by Ossama and Ghadi al-Rahbani, and the concert will be directed by Marwan al-Rahbani.

On July 19, Byblos will host Bob Marley’s son Julian who has gained great celebrity. Marley and the Jamaican musician who will accompany him are the ambassadors of the Reggae music worldwide.

Julian is expected to sing many of his father’s famous songs including “Is this love”, “No woman no cry”, “Exodus”, “Stand Up”, and “Get up” along with a number of his own songs.

The Byblos stage will also host Patti Austin in honor of the lady of jazz Ella Fitzgerald who was known with her exceptional voice. Austin has won a Grammy Award and she is one of the best western singers. This concert will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Ella.

This season, Byblos will offer seven concerts during the summer in addition to the winter concert of Elton John. On July 24, the fifth concert will be introduced by the German alternative rock band Milky Chance; on July 27 the stage will be reserved to the Lebanese-born Spanish violinist Ara Malikian, a brilliant and vibrant performer, blending classical music with pop and rock. The last concert in August will feature France’s M Pokora who achieved a quick celebrity and topped lists of best songs over the five past years.