Beirut – Lebanon’s Beiteddine International Art Festival was kicked off on Sunday with the Palestinian flair of rising singer Omar Kamal, who charmed the audience in a lively concert with his repertoire of western and Arabic, romantic and national songs.
Held annually in the mountainous Chouf region, the concert saw an enthusiastic crowd that was eager to see the “new voice of the Arab world”.
The majority of the concertgoers are not familiar with Kamal, who has been more active on the European scene than the Arab one. He has even reached Hollywood. With his pure voice and charismatic presence, the performer did not disappoint. Concertgoers from all ages filled the seats at the Beiteddine palace, waiting for the “Palestinian Frank Sinatra” to take the stage in his first concert in Lebanon.
The 27-year-old singer presented a varied concert, performing songs by world singers and in different languages. Despite the diverse repertoire, romance and love remained the main theme of the concert, which was given more charm with the live orchestra accompanying Kamal.
The student who had traveled to Britain to study to become an architect, came back to the region as an artist. While in the UK, Kamal headed the choir at Cardiff University where was studying.
The concert was kicked off with a song by Sinatra, a favorite of the Palestinian singer since he was a university student. With his pure voice, Kamal sang in Arabic, French, Italian and English. He seemed more in his element when he sang his version of Sinatra’s “Swing” or Michael Jackson’s “Love Never Felt so Good,” which had originally catapulted him to fame.
For an hour-and-a-half, the audience swayed to the songs of Kamal and the music of the orchestra led by maestro Michael Khairallah. Kamal, a composer and piano player, did not forget Palestine, Fairuz Abdul Halim Hafez and Mohammed Abdul Wahhab, adding his own spin to their classic songs. Kamal performed songs by Michel Legrand, Charles Aznavour and Dean Martin, even coming down from the stage to dance with one of the concertgoers.