Tracing the REverberations of Halim El-Dabh – sonic and otherwise

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Project description

The Egyptian-born musician, composer and scholar Halim El-Dabh (1921-2017) was a pioneer of experimental electronic music. He worked as a professor at an American university and conducted research as an ethnomusicologist in numerous countries in Africa and the African diaspora. His own compositions for opera, symphony, ballet, orchestra and electronic music were inspired by African and Asian influences.
The joint project by Savvy Contemporary e.V. and the MaerzMusik festival pays tribute to this great Egyptian composer whose artistic significance in music history has only received marginal acknowledgement. Nonetheless, several of El-Dabh’s works are relatively well-known. For example, his “Sound and Light of the Pyramids of Giza” (1959) is still performed every day at the Great Pyramids, and the “Expressions of Zaar” (1944) is believed to be one of the world’s first electronic pieces of music. The curators not only intend to present these works, but more importantly, listen to and classify his entire oeuvre from a new perspective in the context of African sound art and historicity. His compositional achievements will be commemorated in an exhibition at the Savvy Contemporary, as well as in workshops, a symposium, radio programmes and concerts during the MaerzMusik festival.

Based on Halim El-Dabh’s work, the project aims to portray the character and position of sound art in contemporary African art and create a platform for investigation and experimentation. The platform should firstly strengthen the link between sound art and visual, performative and installative artistic practices, and secondly, commission radio artists and other fine artists to experiment with the medium of radio for a two-year period. This experimental radio project is designed as a research platform aimed to redefine the categories of non-Western music. The project also plans to conduct extensive research on the first Congress for Arab Music of 1932 for presentation in a series of radio and artistic productions.

Artistic director: Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung
Curator: Kamila Metwaly
Composer: Halim El-Dabh
Artists: Aurélie Nyirabikali Liermann, Emeka Ogboh, Leo Asemota, Lorenzo Sandoval, Satch Hoyt, Sunette Viljoen, Tanka Fonta, Tegene Kunbi, Theo Eshetu, Yara Mekawei


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Previous events

  • 20 March, 2021 to 9 May, 2021: Exhibition: HERE HISTORY BEGAN

    Savvy Contemporary, Berlin