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[Reportage] Montreal FMA returns in head-to-head mode

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Alan Binder
Alan Binder
"Alcohol scholar. Twitter lover. Zombieaholic. Hipster-friendly coffee fanatic."

The lifting of restrictions on the number of spectators in theaters by the Quebec government allowed, without much difficulty, a presence of 300 people at the Cinquième Salle of Place des Arts on the evening of the opening ceremony, last October 29.

That evening, the Syrian artist, Bana Kuntar, performed her concert Damascus from the Nile to the Euphrates.

There was a queue at the entrance to the hall as the concert began. Staff checked the vaccination passports of members of the public on their mobile phones.

In an interview with Radio Canada International (RCI) on opening night, FMA Communications Director Emily Awad said: 80% of this year’s edition events are face-to-face And Some cultural fair activities will be in default, with some speakers staying outside Canada.

As for the performances, they will all be face to face with the exception of Tunisian artist Mahrezia El Taweel.

For the film portion of the festival, all films will be shown in cinemas in Montreal.Mrs. Awad added.

Verification of the vaccination passport for each spectator on the opening night of the Montreal Arab World Festival October 29, 2021

Photo: Radio Canada International / Samir Ben Jaffer


The Montreal FMA organizers have chosen break as the title of the 22NS An edition of this festival that saw the light of day at the turn of the century.

This choice refers to the state of mind in which the 2021 edition occurs, as it represents a break Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming period in which this pandemic will become a memory, organizers hope.

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22NS special editionThe director of public relations at the authority, Laila Mahout, confirms.

The opening of the FMA tonight is very special. It marks the end of two years of forced interruption of life, in which every celebration, intellectual discussion, or creativity has become superfluous.

Laila Mahyout, Director of Public Relations at FMA

Woman wearing glasses.

Laila Mahyout

Photo: Radio Canada International / Samir Ben Jaffer

Finally, the festival is back… with enthusiasm and energy for the audienceMrs. Mahout launched the opening ceremony on the evening of the opening ceremony, speaking from the podium where the orchestra accompanying Bana Kuntar was held.

This is the opening offer A musical epic in honor of Syrian diversity, through which audiences explore the immense wealth of this region of the world. Through the golden voice of singer Bana Kuntar, the audience will enjoy Aramaic and Sufi hymns, Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish songs, as well as classical pieces of music.Mrs. Mahout said.

Laila Mahout stressed the importance of the meeting between artists and the public and raised The charm, smell and light of theaters. All these forgotten pleasures come back.

The pollinated and masked audience enjoyed the performance of the artist, Bana Kuntar, who presented him with a selection of classical Arabic songs, some of them by Asmahan and Umm Kulthum.

A woman sings on stage with an orchestra.

Syrian-born artist Lubana Kuntar inaugurated the 22nd edition of the Montreal Festival for the Arab World on October 29, 2021.

Photo: Radio Canada International / Samir Ben Jaffer

important festival

Montreal FMA is close relationship Since its first edition, FMA Communications Director Emily Awad believes.

It’s an established festival in Montreal’s cultural scene, and there’s its place and followers waiting for it every year. The festival is also a platform for artists from the Arab world and Canada, Mrs. Awwad for RCI.

In addition, the FMA not only does business programming, but also produces its own.Added Communications Manager.

Due to restrictions on foreign travelers to Canada due to COVID-19, the FMA programming team preferred to invite artists who have met the requirements for vaccination with approved vaccines in Canada and who can enter the country without a visa.

This reduced the number of non-Canadian artists participating in the festival somewhat, but did not in any way affect the quality of the programs or the number of spectators.Emily Awad explained.

We were pleasantly surprised by the size of the audience and the number of tickets sold and sorry for the unvaccinated people who could not come to the festival.Mrs. Awad added.

A man and woman standing in front of a display poster

Ahmed and Randa El Masry, a Lebanese couple from Montreal, attend the Arab World Festival event for the first time at the Arts Square on October 29, 2021.

Photo: Radio Canada International

Ahmed and Randa Al-Masry, a Lebanese couple who have lived in Canada for 40 years, attended the Academy’s opening night.

They say the pandemic has kept them out for a long time and it’s the first time in several months they’ve been able to attend a concert.

The Qantar Libana offer was a gift from their children and enabled them to do so Dive back into the lore tarab [chant] Arabs.

We came for the love of tradition. My husband is very fond of Umm Kulthum and she [Lubana Al-Quntar] chantera Oum Kalthoum.

Randa El Masry, FMA spectator


The common denominator between the various programs this year, It is the well-established values ​​of tarab Standard Arabic and back to the sources. And we haven’t forgotten about contemporary artists, of courseMentioned by Emily Awad.

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This program is appreciated by many people, including Shirwan Ali, a Kurdish immigrant, and his Canadian friend, Andrew Martin, both Montreal residents.

Two men standing in the lobby of the hall

Shirwan Ali (left), a Kurdish immigrant from Iraq, says he easily persuaded his Canadian friend Andrew Martin to accompany him to the Montreal Festival of the Arab World on October 29, 2021.

Photo: Radio Canada International / Samir Ben Jaffer

Mr. Martin says his friend easily convinced him to come to the FMA. I am very interested in music and the Arab world. My mother is of Armenian descent from Lebanon, but I have never seen an Arab program with her.

As for Mr. Ali, he was born in Baghdad and came to continue his studies in Canada three years ago. He is waiting for his permanent residence documents.

I feel that people here in Canada are more open to interacting with things that come from abroadSays the young man who spent most of his life in the Iraqi capital before moving to Iraqi Kurdistan to pursue his university studies.

Sherwan Ali also adds that he came to the festival because he is a Familiar with this kind of music And FMA is the only true Arab festival in Quebec.

Note: This report is also available in Arabic and has been translated into French by Fadi Harouni

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