The Beiteddine Art Festival is one of the most prestigious annual music festivals in the Middle East.
Hosted high in the mountains of Lebanon’s Chouf region, this year’s event took place between July 18th and August 10th.
Performers included Oscar-winning Lebanese composer Gabriel Yared, vocalist Yasmina Jumblatt, French actor Gérard Depardieu and Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir.
Al Sahir is an example of a talented Arab who has evolved with the festival, and this year’s gathering marked a landmark celebration for him.
“Every time that I've performed here, over the last 20 years, we leave the stage and we are sure that the audience is thrilled,” he told Euronews.
Another of the festival’s highlights was The Broken Wings musical, an adaptation of the autobiography of Lebanese philosopher and writer, Khalil Gibran.
TRADITION, DIALOGUE AND INNOVATION
With fresh talent constantly entering Lebanon’s vibrant cultural scene, the Beiteddine Art Festival’s president Noura Jumblatt is determined to keep enriching cultural dialogue.
“We are facing many challenges, because of the political and social transformation of the Arab world. And somehow the challenges of 35 years ago [when the festival began] seem insubstantial and flimsy - compared to the shifting sands of the landscape today in the region,” she told Euronews.
According to Jumblatt, the aim is to keep the festival’s traditions alive whilst catering to the tastes of the region’s youth.
“We hope for continuity, and keeping the same standard, and moving with the technology and innovation. As I believe this is the future of festivals around the world,” she added.
BEITEDDINE: A HISTORICAL OUTLOOK
The history of Beiteddine, which translates from Arabic to ‘House of Faith’, spans more than 200 years.
The palace in which the festival of arts takes place was built by a Lebanese architect in the late 1800s on the site of a Druze hermitage.
It was the personal residence of Prince Bashir Chehab II, who ruled Lebanon until 1840, after which time it was taken over by the Ottomans, and then the French.
Following Lebanese independence in 1943, the premises served as a summer residence for the president of the country.
In 1985, during the Lebanese civil war, the Beiteddine Art Festival launched with the aim of establishing the country’s cultural status and creative talents.
Since then, the not-for-profit event has brought art, culture, theatre and music to Mount Lebanon, welcoming local and international artists from Elton John and Placido Domingo to Fairuz and Cesária Évora.