Byblos fest unveils eclectic program.
JBEIL, Lebanon: The 17th Byblos International Festival is going strong as ever, despite the general financial woes affecting all festivals this summer. New laws regarding taxes on festivals bringing international acts into the country have put a damper on programmers who usually aim to draw on some of the latest global sensations. The Culture Ministry hopes it will encourage support of local talent instead.
The Byblos festival isn't giving in without a fight.
"We're getting artists from abroad but we're struggling to do so," festival President Latifee Lakkis told The Daily Star at the recent program launch. "We're racking up loans so we can maintain the same standard, quality and image our festival has always promised.
"Like every year, we are focusing on the variety in the festival and its program and as you can see this year, our program is diverse, with a great international and local presence of artists," she added. "We have seven nights that appeal to all ages, all backgrounds and all tastes.
"We want everyone we come to Jbeil and people know the wonderful reputation the city and the festival have."
Staged July 12 to Aug. 24, the festival will open with a concert by France's Marc Lavoine. With 12 albums under his belt, and in Lebanon for the first time, the vocalist will be singing great hits, like "Elle a les yeux revolver."
July 20 will be a treat for Queen fans, with Queen Symphonic taking to the stage for a spectacular two-hour show paying tribute to the legendary band, catapulted back into pop culture consciousness last year with the release of the movie "Bohemian Rhapsody."
The performance will assemble 50 musicians and singers to deliver Queen's most popular songs in true royal fashion.
"We have rock music from the international group created by the BBC to play Queen's music," Lakkis said. "This kind of music appeals to the young generation and we wanted to give them a show to enjoy."
July 26 will see oud virtuoso and composer Charbel Rouhana return to the portside stage for a second time, alongside Melhem Zein, for a fusion performance of Andalusian-Arabic music.
Byblos promises to light up Aug. 3 for a high-energy show from Martin Garrix, who for the past three years has been named No. 1 DJ in the World by DJ Magazine.
The fully standing show will be accompanied by an impressive light show to complement Garrix's blend of progressive house, electro and future bass.
Metal fans will have a chance to see popular Dutch band Within Temptation on Aug. 7.
The band promises a two-hour spectacle, performing tracks from its just-released seventh album, "Resist," as well as old favorites.
With a third Byblos show, scheduled for Aug. 9, Mashrou' Leila will celebrate its 10th anniversary.
The Lebanese indie pop band will perform new songs and share the stage with such featured guest artists as Joe Goddard from Hot Chip and Andy Butler from Hercules and Love Affair.
"We will end with an important classical music show by Yo-Yo Ma, which for us is a kind of experiment, as we have never had this kind of performance before," Lakkis said. "Classical music has its own niche audience and we hope it is successful."
The renowned Chinese-American cellist, who boasts 19 Grammy Awards, will serenade Byblos with "The Bach Project" on Aug. 24.
The virtuoso will play all six of Bach's "Suites for Solo Cello" in a single sitting, making Byblos the 37th venue to host this feat of performance.
For the full program, see byblosfestival.org.
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