- Title: Beirut Chants Festival rings in Christmas cheer with classical music
- Date: 12th December 2016
- Summary: VARIOUS OF ORCHESTRA PLAYING DETAILS OF CHURCH ALTAR
- Embargoed: 27th December 2016 11:42
- Keywords: Lebanon Christmas churches chants philharmonic France conductor music season Beirut classical music
- Location: BEIRUT, LEBANON
- City: BEIRUT, LEBANON
- Country: Lebanon
- Reuters ID: LVA0045CKSQC5
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Beirut churches, cathedrals and the American University of Beirut host over 20 concerts throughout December for the Beirut Chants Festival, ringing in the Christmas season with classical music concerts.
At a concert by the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra, led by guest French conductor Faysal Karaoui, the St. George Orthodox Cathedral in Beirut was packed full of music lovers.
Micheline Abi Samra, the festival's founder, said this year's performances featured some of the best classical music performers in the world including South Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho, who was the winner of International Chopin Piano Competition in 2015, and the Kodaly String Quartet of Hungary, who are considered amongst the best chamber music performers in the world.
"This year we brought together international musicians who are very important like the pianist Seong-Jin Cho from Korea, the Kodaly Quartet and the Modigliani Quartet and also the Lebanese great talents Abir Nehme, Ghada Chobeir and the important groups that have launched this festival and tonight the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra will charm us," said Abi Samra.
The Beirut Chants Festival is now in its ninth year, with all performances free to attend.
The orchestra's concert master Michel Khairallah welcomed the opportunity for the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra to be led by Faysal Karaoui, who was music director at the New York City Ballet from 2006 to 2012.
"We have an orchestral concert with a guest conductor from France, Faysal Karaoui, who is very very good, we admire him very much and it was a pleasure to work with him," Khairallah said.
Karaoui said the Lebanese Philharmonic was among the best orchestra he has performed with.
"It was an invitation and I am really happy. It's my first time in Liban, first time in Beirut, I didn't know the orchestra, I think it is one of the best orchestras, I mean it is really really good, I had a really good time to work with us. I hope I will come back, it was a very very nice experience, it was a very nice connection with the group and the orchestra gave the best and it was really really nice," Karaoui said.
Music lovers in attendance were impressed by the classical performances.
"This is one of the best festivals to be held in Lebanon in December. I have been here for five years and I always come. Christmas holidays in Beirut are always beautiful, there is magic in them," said Huda, an Algerian student studying in Beirut.
"The ambience made me feel like I was in Europe. I hope these festivals continue to take place in Lebanon not just for this occasion only but all occasions," added Michel Kafrouni.
The festival will continue until December 23 and is set to host the internationally acclaimed Modigliani Quartet on December 16 at the St. Louis Capuchin Church in Beirut.
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