The Nile Project is about breaking down barriers between cultures, countries and religions, says Simon Broughton of London Evening Standard

By Simon Broughton |

The Nile Project. It sounds straightforward. When we think of the Nile, we think of Egypt, but there are 11 countries on the river and the Nile Project is about making musical and environmental links between them. Often, they are politically and culturally far apart. So it isn’t straightforward at all, but it’s very exciting.

I saw the first Nile Project concert in Aswan three years ago and it was a formidable debut. There’s been a residency on the Nile and an evolving pool of musicians since then. The UK premiere was at the Yorkshire Festival on Saturday night and the London premiere last night in Islington. The show began with Egyptian vocalist Saleeb Fawzy, singing what sounded like an ecstatic call to prayer. I only discovered later that Fawzy is a Copt and it was a Christian song, but the Nile Project is about breaking down barriers between cultures, countries and religions.

Throughout, the show varied its sound worlds, with leading musicians from Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya and Tanzania. The mesmeric Egyptian flute of Nader El Shaer, then the Kenyan guitar of Dave Otieno, the dynamic thumb piano of Msafiri Zawose and the powerful female vocals of Kasiva Mutua.

The show worked on stage because it was well structured and built to a powerful close. It worked in the hall because it drew a sizeable and enthusiastic audience. But it will work for a much bigger crowd. Next time Trafalgar Square.

Source: London Evening Standard
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