EL­TON JOHN STEALS THE SHOW AHEAD OF PER­FOR­MANCE IN LE­BANON

BY­B­LOS IN­TER­NA­TIONAL FES­TI­VAL 2017

Executive Magazine - - Executive Life - Words by Olga Habre

when Le­banon’s sum­mer fes­ti­vals an­nounced their 2017 line­ups a few months ago, there was one act that stole the show: the leg­endary El­ton John at the By­b­los In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val. One of the most pop­u­lar artists of our time, a ve-time rammy Award win­ner with over 250 mil­lion al­bums sold, Sir El­ton John is com­ing to Fo­rum de Bey­routh on De­cem­ber 10 with his band as part of his Won­der­ful Crazy Night tour. Though the per­for­mance won’t hap­pen un­til win­ter — and it won’t ac­tu­ally be in By­b­los — it’s still part of the fes­ti­val.

It’s not o en that Le­banon gets such a mas­sive star to stage a con­cert here, but Pro­ducer By­b­los fes­ti­val Naji Baz says that they were lucky enough to be able to at­tract the artist thanks to their con­nec­tion to his man­ager. “It was made eas­ier by the fact that he’s per­form­ing in Dubai two days be­fore that,” he ad­mits, ad­ding that a prob­lem with Le­banon is that it’s not in very close prox­im­ity to the stan­dard tour­ing cir­cuit, which is gen­er­ally Europe and North Amer­ica.

Another rea­son why it’s so di icult to get artists of this cal­iber to come here is Le­banon’s small size, which doesn’t al­ways make it worth­while for them. Baz ex­plains, “We’re lim­ited by our ca­pac­ity. Artist fees de­pend on the po­ten­tial gross that can be gen­er­ated. In an arena that has 8,000 seats, the fee should al­ways be in bal­ance with this.” Though se­cu­rity con­cerns are some­times still an is­sue, he says that artists are aware that se­cu­rity is be­com­ing an in­ter­na­tional prob­lem, and also trust fes­ti­vals with long­stand­ing rep­u­ta­tions.

Set­ting the ex­cite­ment of El­ton John aside, the rest of the fes­ti­val’s sum­mer pro­gram, from July 2 to Au­gust at its tra­di­tional sea-side venue, is a fun one, fea­tur­ing a se­lec­tion of acts and artists from around the world.

Open­ing the fes­ti­val is multi-plat­inum sell­ing Ja­maican R&B artist Sean Paul, known for his steady stream of party hits that are laced with reg­gae and pop­u­lar with the main­stream crowd. Another cur­rent pop-fa­vorite com­ing to the fes­ti­val is er­many’s chart-top­ping DJ duo Milky Chance, with their unique fu­sion of reg­gae, elec­tronic, pop and folk. Added to the mix is M. Pokora, bring­ing his brand of very lively, very pop, French songs to By­b­los as part of his cur­rent tour.

Also at the fes­ti­val this year is a mu­si­cian that’s been in the busi­ness for 0 years, singer and song­writer Patti Austin. Her jazzy sounds are no doubt the per­fect har­mony to ac­com­pany late night sea­side views, while con­tem­po­rary artist, the Le­banese-Ar­me­nian vi­o­lin­ist Ara Ma­likian, adds his in­no­va­tive mu­si­cal pres­ence as well.

By­b­los Fes­ti­val is also host­ing a nos­tal­gic mu­si­cal by Mar­wan, hadi and Ous­sama Rah­bani, “Nas­riw-Phile­mon-Fil-Bal,” a trib­ute to re­mark­able Le­banese mu­si­cian and ac­tor Nasri Shamsed­dine and Phile­mon We­hbe, one of the great­est com­posers of the Arab world. Star­ring has­san Sal­iba, Soumaya Baal­baki and Bas­sima, and ac­com­pa­nied by an orches­tra, the stage will also in­cor­po­rate footage of real mu­si­cals, as well as songs and di­a­logue. The mu­sic and dance per­for­mance takes au­di­ences back to beau­ti­ful mo­ments of the past, show­ing how these olden Age artists have le their mark on Le­banese cul­ture.

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