The Beiteddine Art Festival has geared up for its 35th edition. The announcement was made in a dynamic gathering, promising a spectacular program. We got to wonder how more spectacular could it be when it has always been outstanding throughout the decades like the historical palace that hosts it annually?
Lebanon takes immense pride in the Beiteddine Art Festival and its international fame. It is one of the most prestigious musical events in the Middle East. Its first edition was launched amidst the war, in the summer of 1985, in a brave and resounding statement of hope, proclaiming Lebanon's cultural role and power of creativity.
The magnificent Beiteddine Palace of 19th-century Lebanese architecture is not just any event venue, nor any palace. Built between 1788 and 1818, it was the seat of the Emirate of Mount Lebanon during the reign of the historical Prince Bashir Chehab II, and also his personal residence until 1840.
The strategically located palace was then taken by the Ottoman Ruling that occupied Lebanon and then by the French mandate after the WWI. Declared a historical monument in 1934, the palace became the summer presidential residence upon our independence.
Today, its sumptuous reception rooms of marble and carved wood host the Palace Museum and the annual Beiteddine Festival that has presented through the years unique performances of Lebanese and internationally acclaimed artists.
This year, the 35th season of the "Beiteddine Art Festival" seems to want to outdo itself. The organizing committee made its announcement from "Beyt Amir" in Clemenceau, Beirut; a Lebanese ethnic place of warm and radiant architecture.
Unlike previous years, there was no press conference per se this time but a small and dynamic ceremony with live piano plays, short films about this year's program, and singing performances. Four of this year's performers addressed the audience with a heads-up about their coming performances.
Mrs. Nora Joumblat, president of the Beiteddine Festivals, said in her speech, "We are here to celebrate 35 years of arts, culture music and theater. Lebanon’s cultural and touristic scene is always developing and renewed by young artists and those returning from the Lebanese diaspora."
Two of the performers there present were the Lebanese Oscar-winning composer and musician Gabriel Yared and vocalist Yasmina Joumblat, granddaughter of the legendary singer Asmahan.
Both artists will be in concert, on the opening ceremony, with the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of the Belgian Maestro Dirk Brosse.
Yard Said recounted the start of his professional relationship with Yasmina Joumblat, praising "the purity of her unique elegant crystal voice." Their collaboration brought about the creation of nine original songs and the re-creation of three songs by Asmahan.
We were delighted to know of the return, straight from London’s West End, of the musical adaptation of Broken Wings of Gibran Khalil Gibran. That jeweled musical piece of the biographical novel of Gibran was created by the Lebanese Nadim Naaman and Dana Al Fardan.