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Mohammed Assaf with the Multi-Ethnic Star Orchestra (MESTO)

Saturday 8 October 2016


The story of Mohammed Assaf’s almost overnight rise to fame is an extraordinary tale of passion, talent, and unstoppable determination. Mohammed Assaf grew up in Gaza where he began singing at the age of five; and, over the succeeding years, without any professional assistance developed his voice into a very fine instrument. At the age of ten, Assaf embarked on a singing career by performing at weddings in Gaza, steadily gaining popularity and eventually appearing on local television. In 2013, at the age of twenty-three, Mohammed decided it was time to break out into the wider world by entering the Arab Idol contest in Cairo. 
The young man set off for Egypt without any of the required papers and simply sang his way into hearts of the border guards who were then happy to let him pass through. Unregistered and seemingly without any hope of entering the overcrowded competition, Mohammed leapt over the wall of the hotel in Cairo where the Arab Idol competition was to be held and spontaneously began to sing in the lobby. One of the contestants, a fellow Palestinian, was so impressed with Assaf’s talent that he gave him his place in the competition. 
Overjoyed, Mohammed Assaf sang as if in a dream that came true. He charmed, mesmerized and ignited audiences day after day. Even the judges got up and danced. The unknown young Palestinian outshone all others, won the contest, and soon rocketed to stardom. The Arab World’s 2013 Idol is a singer with an electric charisma, who is brimming with musicality, whose voice has been described as “rare, sweeping and powerful” and who remains passionately committed to furthering the Palestinian cause. Not surprisingly, Assaf’s story has been made into a film, The Idol, directed by the acclaimed Palestinian filmmaker, Hany Abu Assad, which premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Assaf’s virtuosic and entrancing performances continue to increase his fame throughout the Arab World and beyond. 
Assaf will perform at the ROHM with MESTO, the renowned Multi-Ethnic Star Orchestra, which combines ethnic music genres with those of Western classical traditions. The Orchestra, which incorporates folk instruments within a symphonic instrumental structure, fosters new music genres which integrate styles of music based on ethnic scales and rhythms with complementary European classical traditions in which all MESTO musicians are trained. MESTO collaborates with distinguished composers and performers from around the world. The Orchestra will be conducted by Maestro Nabil Azzam, the accomplished composer, violinist, and virtuoso oud player who founded MESTO at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Maestro Azzam is passionately committed to building bridges of cultural tolerance and understanding between East and West through music.
At the Royal Opera House Muscat on the 8th of October 2016 at 7.00 pm, Mohammed Assaf will sing from his popular repertoire of classic Arab songs in a programme that also features Palestinian Folkloric performances. For further information and booking, consult the ROHM website