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The kingdom is set to come alive with a series of spectacular cultural, musical and artistic performances as well as educational workshops and exhibitions as part of the annual Spring of Culture celebrations.
The festival, which is in its 15th edition, aims to keep both young and old entertained throughout Bahrain starting from February 25 until the end of April and Shaikha Hala bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, the director general of Culture and Arts at the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, is particularly excited about the first event.
“We look forward to a really interesting edition of Spring of Culture this year and of course we start on the 25th with a very special performance held at the Bahrain National Theatre. The performance higlights the work of Zaha Hadid, the late architect who passed away,” said Shaikha Hala. “She is an incredible woman, who gave a lot to architecture all around the world, and in honour of her legacy and her work, there is a performance that will take place here. I look forward to attending it with everyone.”
This mystical show will be held on Arab Tourism Day, an occasion which was adopted when Manama was the Capital of Arab Tourism in 2013 to mark the birthday of the great Arab traveler Ibn Battuta.
It will be commemorated by the contemporary dance performance called Hadid Tears celebrating Zaha’s legacy. The show will explore her connection to the Sufi dervishes of the Mawlaw’iyya Order through circular movements paralleling her architecture, a study of gravity and the notion of cathartic release when fusing with the infinite. It will be conducted by the Egyptian Modern Dance Theatre & Cairo Opera House and directed by Walid Aouni.
This edition of the festival, which is organised by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA), the Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Centre for Culture and Research, in cooperation with Albareh Gallery and La Fontaine Centre for Contemporary Arts, also comes as part of BACA’s year-long celebrations for 2020 under the slogan of Dilmun: Land of Density.
During the official launch, held at Bahrain National Theatre, Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, President of BACA, said: “This edition oversees a variety of cultural activities along the lines of civilizational development, reflecting the slogan that we have selected to underscore all our activities for 2020.
“The upcoming two months will present residents and visitors with diverse activities and eclectic programs to attend including literary, musical, fine arts, theatrical events and more”.
Shaikha Mai also expressed her gratitude to Khalid Humaidan, chief executive of EDB, praised private institutions for their annual contributions as well as thanked supporters and its contributors from Arab and foreign embassies.
As the events agenda appeared on a giant screen at the conference, Tunisian singer Faiza Al-Arba’i performed traditional tarab tunes including songs by Umm Kulthum, Fayrouz and Sabah Fakhri, setting the mood for what theatrical and musicals were set to come.
The Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Centre for Culture and Research welcomes Japanese musician Naoko Kikuchi on February 27 for an evening entitled Koto Player. She will perform classical tunes on the traditional instrument.
Also on February 27, at the Cultural Hall, will be a performance by the Sri Lankan Dance Company, the Channa-Upuli Performing Arts Foundation. It is a collaborative effort with the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Bahrain.
One concert that is set to enthrall music-lovers is the return of Ms Lauryn Hill. The rhythm and blues soulful singer is scheduled to appear at Bahrain Bay on February 28 at 8:30pm.
The Grammy award winner is best known for her hit tracks with the Fugees in the 90s Killing Me Softly and Ready or Not. She followed this with 10 Grammy award nominations for her album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. She is now back on the scene in full force celebrating the extended 20th anniversary of her hit album.
The Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Centre for Culture and Research also brings Lebanese qanun player Elie Achkar and Barcelona native and guitarist Manuel Delgado on March 2 for a collaborative concert.
The “Mr. Men & Little Misses” puppetry show will take stage at The Cultural Hall on March 4, 5 and 7.
Other musical performances include singers Omar Kamal and Banah on March 6 at 8pm at Bahrain Bay with a Fusion of the East &The West. The concert combines a special mix of English and Arabic classics showcased in a new and modern way.
The Australia-based theatrical dance performance The Merchants of Bollywood is scheduled for March 26 and 27 at Bahrain Bay and the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra with Melodies of a Beautiful Time will be held on March 28 at the Bahrain National Theatre conducted by Bahraini Maestro Mubarak Najem and Bulgarian Maestro Diane Pavlov.
Palestinian pianist Fadi Deeb and Palestinian-Japanese artist Mariam Tamari join forces for an extraordinary performance on March 30 entitled From Debussy to Darwish at The Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Centre for Culture and Research.
Bahraini folk music is a key part of this edition as the Mohammed bin Faris Music Hall will host the Mohammed bin Faris Band every Thursday regaling audiences with tales of a pearl diver’s life through festive melodies, working songs and farewell ballads.
Dar Al Muharraq invites all to attend evenings highlighting the Bahraini Fijri tradition whereas Dar Al Riffa spotlights a variety of local folk traditions within Bahrain.
A storytelling and dance event entitled Traditional Japanese Vaudeville Theatre, a collaborative effort with the Embassy of Japan and sponsored by K E Kanoo -Mazda Bahrain, will showcase two distinct forms of Japanese performance art — traditions of the comedic Rakugo storytelling that traces back 400 years and the ritualistic Daikagura stemming from the Edo period. It will be held at the Cultural Hall.
Meanwhile, the German Embassy will be bringing the critically acclaimed, one-of-a-kind concert Pianotainment to perform on March 13 at the Cultural Hall as well.
The Cultural Hall presents a modern dance performance in collaboration with the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt entitled Raya & Sakina on March 25 and 26.
The Qal’at Al Bahrain Site Museum returns for the ongoing The Sound & Light Show every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, taking audiences on an audiovisual journey towards the depths of history when the Dilmun civilisation reigned and then back to the present.
While some look forward to the performances, others get excited about the workshops, lectures and exhibitions.
Shaikha Hala added: “The Spring of Culture is one of the most amazing platforms in the kingdom of Bahrain that brings together a lot of entities under one umbrella celebrating art, culture, performances. I’m particularly proud that there is a strong workshop and educational programme that takes place alongside the Spring of Culture events. It’s not only about entertainment; it’s also about engaging the public and our young audiences. There are so many events to follow. I believe that there are many that suit all audiences.”
The Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Centre for Culture and Research presents various literary and intellectual lectures. Prof. Dr Albert De Roeck will discuss his experiences working on the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and highest-energy particle collider and the largest machine in the world, on March 4.
Additionally, Ibrahim Issa’s lecture entitled A Novel of History or A Historical Novel is on March 16.
Beyond literature, this season sheds light on Arabic poetry through readings at the House of Poetry: Ebrahim Al Arrayed.
Children are also invited to attend the Folk Storytelling event on February 22 at Dar Al Muharraq, and BACA will host a Medicinal Plants tour at the Qal’at Al Bahrain Site Museum on March 7.
Additionally, BACA will host the Pearling Path Board Games League on March 28 at Siyadi Public Square in Muharraq.
Cinephiles have a breadth of phenomenal films to look forward to as well. For example, the Tunisian Film Festival at the Bahrain National Museum will screen films on February 26 and March 4 and 14. As for workshops, participants can learn Arabic calligraphy through designated workshops, traditional crafts and creative skills in cinema, design and more.
To find out more about the different events, workshops and exhibitions visit www.springofculture.org or follow @springofculture on Instagram.
Weekly Spring of Culture event details – P8 & 9
Scan the QR code for the official launch.