Musician Shuhail Arafa honored at start of Damascus Cultural Forums

Damascus, SANA – The third session of the Damascus Cultural Forums began their activities with honoring prominent musician Suhail Arafa, who embodies Syria’s national and patriotic spirit in his works.

The event, organized at the Arab Cultural Center in Abu Rummaneh in Damascus, included a musical performance by Luna group conducted by Maestro Hussam Bremo, with vocalists Karmen Tokaji and Bilal al-Jendi performing a number of songs composed by Arafa.

Assistant Culture Ministers Tawfiq al-Imam and Ali al-Mubayyed and the Center’s Director Rabab Ahmad presented Arafa with a commemorative plate and a certificate of appreciation in honor of his prestigious musical career which spanned over half a century of creativity.

Forum supervisor, musical expert Ahmad Bobas, said that Arafa is a pillar of Arab music, composing pieces for the biggest Arab singers like Wadih El Safi, Shadia, Najah Salam, Sharifa Fadel, Sabah, Samir Yazbek, and Marwan Mahfouz, to name just a few, in addition to composing many patriotic songs and children’s songs, including “Children of the World” which won an award in Italy in 1980.

For his part, Maestro Bremo said that Arafa is a pioneer in the Arab musical scene, and that honoring such a prominent figure with a rich career is a duty, voicing happiness over being part of the honoring along with Luna group.

Suhail Arafa was born in Damascus in 1935. He learned music at the hands of musician Michel Awad and began composing in 1959, and his first composition work was with singer Najah Salam, going on to compose for Samir Helmi, Fahd Ballan, Nasri Shamseddin, and others.

His big break was in 1963 when he composed the song “from Qasioun I look over you, my homeland” for Lebanese singer Dalal Shmali, which earned him wide renown. Another important part of his career was composing songs for Lebanese singer Sabah. He also composed the soundtrack of several movies, plays, TV, and radio shows.

Arafa is a member of the Artists Guild since 1968, and was awarded the Syrian Order of Merit of the Excellent Degree, an honorary diploma from the Musical Institute in Aleppo, and several certificates of appreciation from the Information Ministry, the Culture Ministry, the Artists Guild, Damascus Governorate, and the Syrian Song Festival, not to mention several international awards.

A children’s art exhibition was also opened on the sideline of the event, showcasing around 90 paintings showcasing the participating children’s love for their country.

The Damascus Cultural Forums, which will continue until March 9th, will include a seminar on the concepts of state, authority, and social contract, a forum on narratives, a seminar on plastic arts, and a poetry forum.

Hazem Sabbagh

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