Multidisciplinary, multigenre musical extravaganza receives standing ovation
Encouraged by Assistant Professor of Music Amr Selim, LAU musicians take LAU by storm.
Students from a variety of disciplines collaborated to stage “Alternative Facts,” an eclectic music-led performance, to a full house at LAU’s Byblos campus on Monday and Beirut campus on Wednesday.
The major music production which drew a standing ovation across the Selina Korban Auditorium, combines acting, dance and video with the sounds of a violin, oud, drums, piano and vocals to deliver a strong message about truth and awareness through a narrative built around a newsroom.
Performing arts major Stephanie Tadros and computer science major Ikram Hamizi played the part of news anchors and read farcical news reports prepared by the show’s director Assistant Professor of Music Amr Selim. “Humor speaks to different parts of the brain that help you see the outside picture more easily,” said Selim of the script, inspired by late night U.S. shows. “Mixing serious messaging with funny things strengthens the production and people’s ability to absorb it.”
In between sketches, Tadros and Hamizi sang and played the piano, respectively. “This is the first time I play in front of an audience, and it was so exciting,” enthused Hamizi. “It’s a great chance to interact with people from other majors. I’m usually surrounded by technical brains, and here I was with artistic brains.”
Also dedicating time away from his academic discipline was violinist Elie Chahine. “I study architecture but I love music,” explained Chahine, who has had a lot of experience on stage. “This was the most important performance by far though. It was so much fun, and I was working with professionally minded people.”
Each student, says Selim, brought a unique expertise and vision that strengthened the production. “A graphic designer, for example, sees colors and shapes better than I do. In music, I hear better than they do. This exchange of perspectives and ideas is truly helpful.”
The set – with rubble and a destroyed car on one side, a cage on another and candles lighting up the stairs – drew from the expertise and vision of people from different disciplines and was evidently the result of a creative and collaborative process.
Mechanical engineering student Jamil Moussa so enjoyed the camaraderie and mentoring by Selim that he is now considering taking on performing arts as a second major. “It was my first time playing western music on the oud. Amr encouraged me to improvise and explore the boundaries of my instrument, and I learned a lot working with others.”
Fellow engineering student Bassam Haddad was personally invited by Selim to take part in the production after the professor heard his raps online. “What’s unique here is that we’re creating things, not just performing,” says Haddad, who wrote two sets of lyrics especially for the production. “Even with the covers, we’re mincing things and each musician is adding chords.”
Indeed most of the well-known songs performed―selected from across a number of musical genres including jazz, reggae and mawwal―were creatively adapted by the artists. “Making a storyline and bringing in the songs while portraying the central message was the most challenging part of the process,” recalls Selim. Seeing and nurturing the passion in the students, to him, was most rewarding. “It’s great to see how happy they are. You can see the fire in their eyes. They want to get back on stage and do it again,” he said after the first performance, surrounded by dozens of audience members who had come down to personally congratulate and admire their peers.
“For the audience, it’s very inspiring and powerful,” added Selim. “The goal of a performance is not to take you out of reality, but to show you that there is more to know. The role of the arts in this regard, and particularly in this region, is very important and deserves to be nurtured.”
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Watch full video: http://comm.lau.edu.lb