What to Watch at the Baalbeck International Festival 2011

Pencil down these events and dates to take place at the Baalbeck International Festival.

Thursday 7, Friday 8 &  Saturday July 9 2011

FROM the Days of Saladin Lebanese Nights
Text, lyrics, music and direction by Farid and Maher Sabbagh
The Courtyard of the two Temples


A Lebanese musical play entirely live. It is interpreted by Assi el Hallani, Antoine Kerbaje, Carmen Lebbos, Carine Ramia, Nabil Abou Mrad, Ghassan Attieh, Joseph Assaf, Boutros Farah, Khaled el Sayed, Hala el Murr, Sabeh Baaklini; the music is played by an orchestra of 45 musicians conducted by Maestro Harout Fazlian and the choir of the Antonine Fathers University under the direction of father Toufik Maatouk will complete this ensemble with the participation of an elite of singers, actors and dancers. All the sets are designed by Rami Sabbagh. The dances are choreographed by François Rahme. The costumes design and execution are signed by Faten Mechref from the Caracalla Research Center.

This musical play, which takes place during the conflicts between Saladin and Richard the Lion Heart, highlights the impact of the conflicts that have always existed between East and West and its effect on Lebanon as well as on the region. The intrigue is an integral part of the piece that has a leading character who is a contemporary writer who decided to continue to write his piece as a musical play titled “From the days of Saladin”. He then penetrates his own creation to convince his own characters to negotiate and conclude a final peace between East and West, at the Gates of the “City of Peace” instead of the historic yet limited truce that resulted between Saladin and Richard the Lion Heart in 1192.

This musical play includes elaborate scenes and songs with a folkloric oriental music without ever forgetting the framework of events; modern audio-visual and lighting effects done by a highly qualified technician team complete this masterpiece.  The result that evolves in a piece produced today is fast-paced and quite audacious.

Thursday July 14 2011
Boris Eifman Ballet Theatre of Saint-Petersburg Don Quichotte or Fantasies of a Mad Man (to be confirmed)
The Courtyard of the two Temples

After their brilliant performance at Baalbek in 2010, the Boris Eifman Ballet Theatre of Saint-Petersburg will be back this year to present the magnificent ballet Don Quichotte or fantasies of a mad man.

“Don Quixote, or Fantasies of a Madman” is one of Boris Eifman’s most enjoyable works, brisk storytelling and lively dance that gingerly sends up classical ballet while providing a reasonably fine modern equivalent. Eifman wakes up the old art like few others, loyal to the tradition while boldly updating its look. In “Quixote,” he finds the perfect metaphor, encasing his hero in a framing plot as inmate of an asylum, a way to be faithful to Miguel de Cervantes themes. Not only is this Quixote — danced with brittle zeal and bursting energy, but the approach allows Eifman to craft an earnest plea for the imagination, a lustrous salute to the vision and suffering of all artists.” (Chicago Tribune, April 2011)

Friday July 15 2011
The Gershwin Piano Quartet Contemporary Music on Four Grand Pianos
The Courtyard of the two Temples

The Gershwin Piano Quartet sheds new light on the music of Gershwin. It features four pianists on four concert grand pianos playing, arranging and improvising on some of Gershwin’s most popular songs and orchestral works. Their repertoire also includes important works by Stravinsky, Ravel … thus creating a lively and highly virtuosic concert evening not to be missed.

The program will feature:

Stravinsky: Petrushka-Suite
Granados: La Maya y el Ruisenor
Wirth: Tango-Fugue on a theme by Astor Piazzolla
Wild: Etude no3 on “The Man I Love” – Etude no 6 on “I Got Rhythm”
Ravel: La Valse
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue – Lady Be Good – I Got Rhythm
Porter: Night n’ Day

Saturday July 23 2011
Abdel Rahman el Bacha Classical Music
Bacchus Temple

A very tough French musical critic said of him “Abdel Rahman El Bacha is a shining star in his world of music, a world that knows no physical boundaries or historical limitations. His language is understood universally, touching hearts and minds through his chosen instrument, the piano, and with the help of nimble fingers and an exceptional talent. These are skills he develops and hones with great precision, knowing that to realise one’s dream, nothing can be left to chance.”
He came for the first time to Baalbek in 2008 to interpret as a soloist, with his astounding technique, a various repertory that totally seduced us and left us on our thirst to see him play again his exceptional interpretations.

This year, he is coming back to enchant us once again.


Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.12 in A flat major, Op.26
Schubert: Impromptu No.3 in B-flat major Op.142
Chopin: Nocturne No.13 in C minor Op.48 No.1 / Polonaise for Piano in F sharp minor Op.44
El Bacha: A Ritual Ancient Arabs’ Danse / Variations on an Abdel Wahab Melody / Bacchus
Prokofiev: Sarcasms Op. 17
Ravel: Le Gaspard de la nuit

Saturday July 30 2011
Louis Hayes & the Cannonball Legacy Band featuring Vincent Herring & Jeremy Pelt
Jazz Concert
The Courtyard of the two Temples

Louis Hayes is one of Jazz’s greatest drummers of all time. His story contains a glorious past, a most vibrant present and an everlasting future. At age 18 Louis became a three year member of the legendary Horace Silver Quintet and for the following six years joined the extraordinary Cannonball Adderly Quintet. Besides several years of musical associations with Oscar Peterson and McCoy Tyner, Louis led and co-led a series of groups as with: Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, and Woody Shaw – to name just a few. Louis recorded and worked with the Greatest in Jazz:  John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, J.J. Johnson, Sonny Clark, Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Joe Henderson & many others.

Having won numerous awards and participated in almost every major international festival over the years, Louis Hayes finally arrives to Baalbek as Leader of the Cannonball Legacy band which already has several hit albums including the most recent “Maximum Fire Power”. The band features two of today’s greatest stars of Modern Jazz: Vincent Herring on Saxophone & Jeremy Pelt on Trumpet. Also joining the band will be Anthony Wonsey on Piano and Richie Goods on Acoustic Bass.