Thursday 31 January 2013

Birds Eye View: new live music commissions by British Arab artists

A very exciting update to my last announcement about the Birds Eye View film festival 2013 - read the second half of this piece - which chimes with my interest in Middle Eastern reportagerevolution and protest, international patronage/diplomacy and Middle Eastern visual art such as the stunning contemporary photography exhibition Realism in Rawiya which is on now at the New Art Exchange, with a symposium in mid-February as part of the Ishraqah festival of Middle Eastern arts and culture.

A still from The Adventures of Prince Ahmed, dir. Lotte Reiniger

BEV have announced two new cross-cultural live music commissions by leading female British-Arab artists:

Multi award winning composer Bushra El-Turk and East African-influenced jazz musician Amira Kheir will create new live silent film scores for BEV’s 2013 Film Festival: Celebrating Arab Women Filmmakers, showcasing the most exciting female filmmaking talent from the Arab world from 3 – 10 April at BFI Southbank, Barbican and other London venues.

Bushra El-Turk creates a new work for a chamber ensemble combining classical Western and traditional Middle Eastern instrumentation, accompanying The Adventures of Prince Achmed, the world’s first feature-length animation. ‘Prince Achmed’ is an enchanting, sharply humorous and visually dazzling classic based on The Arabian Nights by pioneering director Lotte Reiniger. Currently on attachment to the London Symphony Orchestra's Panufnik Programme, British-Lebanese El-Turk’s acclaimed work has also been performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and London Sinfonietta. The score premieres at Southbank Centre on Thu 7 March, with a second performance on Fri 5 April at London’s Barbican.

Singer, musician and songwriter Amira Kheir blends contemporary jazz with East African music for a multi-instrumental 5-piece band, scoring landmark fantasy-drama Sumurun (One Arabian Night). Sumurun is s ‘brilliant’ (NY Times) fantasy-drama of forbidden love based on the Arabian Nights. This landmark silent film was a collaboration by director Ernst Lubitsch and early Hollywood superstar Pola Negri. Amira Kheir is critically acclaimed for her ‘beautiful and fearless’ (Songlines) first album View From Somewhere and her BBC Radio 3 and London Jazz Festival debuts. Premiering at BFI Southbank on Thu 4 April ahead of Bristol’s Watershed on Sun 14 April.

A still from Sumurun: One Arabian Night, starring Pola Negri

  • Contact Will Young at
  • Bushra El-Turk's live score for The Adventures of Prince Achmed will premiere on Thurs 7 March, 7.30pm, Southbank Centre, Tickets £15 / £7.50 concs., box office: 0844 875 0073 or visit . 
    • The second performance is on Fri 5 April, 7pm at the Barbican. Tickets TBC. Box Office: 020 7638 8891 / 
  • Amira Kheir's live score for Sumurun (One Arabian Night) will premiere on Thurs 4 April, time TBC, BFI Southbank, box office: 020 7928 3232 /
    • The second performance will be on Sun 14 April, 6pm at the Watershed in Bristol. Box Office: 0117 927 5100 /