The soothing sound of Abdel Halim Hafez’s “Ahwak,” played on violin, filled the Kempinski Hotel’s lobby lounge last Wednesday evening, as part of the newly launched Concertini program.
Launched in 2017 at various Kempinski Hotel franchises around the globe to mark the 120th anniversary of the chain, the program seeks to give local artists a platform to perform.
Wednesday’s show, the first at a Lebanese Kempinski, featured young talents from the Keys’n Cords music academy performing a mix of Arabic and Western music on violin and piano.
“[The Kempinski] sees its commitment to the arts as an essential component of its role in the community,” Program Manager and Sales and Marketing Director Nadia Madi told The Daily Star. “Keys’n Cords is an academy that specializes in music education for all ages.
“Not only do the programs cater to children and adults alike. They design signature programs that address special needs, such as music therapy … [which] is part of our commitment of fostering Lebanon’s vibrant culture and nurturing young talents.”
Performed by Chantal Yammine, the first half of the show saw string covers of popular songs, including Gerardo Matos Rodriguez’s tango “La Cumparsita” and John Legend’s “All of Me.”
But it was 15-year-old Yasmin Saddi who stole the show in the second half, with her smoky alto vocals and soft piano playing, performing covers of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black,” Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down” and Kodaline’s “High Hopes.”
“I did a couple of fine arts programs in the summer and that got me interested and this year I wanted to work more on my voice so I joined Keys’n Cords,” Saddi told The Daily Star. “As for piano I’m learning now and I taught myself in the beginning since grade four but I only started singing two years ago.
“I’ve done live performance at school before but this is the first time I’ve sung and played piano at the same time,” she added. “It was fun and I liked being in control of what I do, but it was also very nerve-wracking and the whole week I was practicing for hours to get it right.
“This was a really good experience for me,” she said, “and I like how [the program] showcases young artists because its something nice to bring out, especially in Lebanon.”
The concerts will be held on the first Wednesday of every month, with a new selection of aspiring artists from music schools in the local community set to performing each time.
“We are looking forward to seeing people’s turnout in Lebanon,” Madi said, “and are positive of the enormous contribution that will take place from other music schools and academies in placing this opportunity in front of their talents.”
The performers will be chosen on a monthly basis by asking institutions to forward applications from interested students or occasionally by using social media to find independent young artists.