AUC Holds Media Roundtable on the Launch of Spring 2021 Concert Series and the Music Program’s Latest Initiatives
The American University in Cairo (AUC) held on Monday a virtual media roundtable discussion on the launch of the “Spring 2021 Concert Series” and the latest initiatives of the Department of the Art’s Music Program. Speakers at the media roundtable were Chelsea Green, associate professor and director of the Music Program; Ashraf Fouad, AUC Concert Series director and adjunct professor; Nesma Mahgoub ’13, AUC Concert Series member, adjunct professor, and singer and Tasneem Elaidy, a junior student of Music Technology and Music Performance at AUC. The discussion was followed by a live stream of the Mosaic Quintet performing selected works by Egyptian pioneers in Arab music from the mid-1800s to the mid-1960s and many other Arab musical forms.
“AUC Music Program’s Concert Series presents this year 13 professional concerts followed by six student performances at the end of the semester,” said Ashraf Fouad, AUC Concert Series director, and adjunct professor. AUC Concert Series this year includes Pawel Kuzma and Taha El Mansy performing The Lineage: Music for Classical Guitar; Isis String Orchestra’s performance, from Classical to American Music; Lions of Cairo performance, Baroque and Before, and Opera for peace Concert, which will feature young Arab singers performing with Cairo Festival Orchestra.
Fouad said that AUC Concert Series is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the region. “AUC Concert Series has been present since the founding of the University,” he said. “This series hosted the legendary Umm Kulthum and American Pianist and Composer Herbie Hancock at Ewart Memorial Hall. The same series invited Cairo Conservatory and Cairo Ballet. Ewart Hall also witnessed Gaetano Donizetti’s Don Pasquale — an opera buffa, or comic opera in three acts by Italian composer Donizetti — in collaboration with Cairo Opera House featuring AUC students with professional singers. Also, a section of The Bolshoi gave a special performance of The Nutcracker ballet [in this series].”
Chelsea Green, associate professor and director of the Music Program, highlighted the uniqueness of AUC’s Music Program, which teaches the theory, literature, and performance of music, and the theory and practice of music technology, with an orientation towards performance and study in both Western and Arab music.
Green said: “the Bachelor of Arts in music technology is the only degree of its type in the region. We have students coming from Lebanon and other areas of the Middle East to study with us. The program offers cutting-edge technology, including a recording studio and a mastering studio. Our students not only get the theoretical knowledge but also get a lot of practical experience.”
Green discussed the program’s dual emphasis on both Turko-Arab and Western European music cultures, contributing to this program’s uniqueness. “Our students graduate with the knowledge and practice of the theoretical and historical aspects of both cultures.”
Nesma Mahgoub ’13, AUC Concert Series member, adjunct professor, and singer discussed AUC’s role in supporting students and performers. She said: “I am so proud of AUC’s Music Program and what it offers to its students. I am where I am today because of AUC and the knowledge that it offered me not just in singing, but in music technology as well.”
Mahgoub said that after winning first place in the singing competition Star Academy Arabia, she completed her bachelor’s degree then pursued her dream in singing. “In 2017, I decided to teach at AUC out of gratitude, to give back and share my real-life-performance field experience with AUC students and help them pursue their dreams as I did. I love and enjoy teaching at AUC, as we have so many talents that need guidance to unleash their ultimate potential.” Mahgoub also added new music genres not offered in the music program, like pop and rock.
Green also said that the students are the unique elements of the Music Program. “I believe the most fruitful artistic journeys take place in a liberal arts environment. In this program, every student has the opportunity to develop artistic integrity and understand how art engages with our complex world.”
With COVID-19 disrupting the music industry and live concerts worldwide, AUC’s Music Program had to get creative, using the latest technologies to live-stream concerts. Fouad said: “Everyone is welcome to attend our concerts, whether face-to-face or through live-streaming, as some events are open to a limited number of audiences, and others are only live-streamed.”
Fouad explained that AUC’s Music Technology program enables its students to become professional sound engineers learning music recording, editing, production, and broadcasting. “The live streaming team is supervised by David Rafferty, director of music technology, who works with graduates and undergraduates — most of them are technology, and some are film majors — who work very hard to fulfill this complicated mission,” he added.
Tasneem Elaidy, a junior student of Music Technology and Music Performance at AUC, is one of those students working behind the scenes to make the live streaming come to life. She applies what she learns in class through AUC Concert Series. She said: “We work on setting everything up during the event, from checking the microphones to checking the sound. We are always the first to come and last to leave the event to make sure that the event is well-recorded on YouTube.” Elaidy said. She is now working on her new songs rather than just singing covers, “Studying music at AUC is what helped me enhance my knowledge in music technology and qualified me to start working on my songs.”
For more information on the Department of Arts events, please visit the department’s Facebook page.