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Tunes of a new troupe

Sukun Troupe only played one concert, but the band–more of an experimental music project–made a splash. Sukun featured Ismail Fawzi, of Wust el-Balad, playing the Turkish baglama or tambour, Shady Nagy on the acoustic guitar, Magdy el-Nuby on the daff, and Noga on the bongos.

The band made its debut performance at Rawabet Theater on Friday night. The packed hall included veterans, such as Fathy Salama and other familiar faces of the music scene, who eagerly awaited the concert. What came next proved polyphonic and penetrating and left the audience captivated.

"We try to infuse classical and baroque influences, while incorporating styles from all over North Africa and the Middle East," Ismail Fawzi explained.  Sukun used their music education and experience to diversify the set list.

While Shady and Ismail complemented one another vocally throughout many of the songs,, Magdy el-Nuby sang a traditional Nubian song written by Hussein Gaser. The band also played songs with socio-political implications written by acclaimed poets like Salah Jahin and Mahmoud Radwan. Ismail Fawaz brought back a familiar Wust el-Balad track, but he maintained the evening’s soothing atmosphere by playing an acoustic rendition.

Sukun Troupe was formed just one month ago, and at times this was reflected in their performance. Band members passed smiles at every glitch, blithely brushed off any awkwardness, and continued jamming their folkloric grooves.

"We are here to play for the audience and for ourselves," said Fawzi.  "People are very welcome to come and listen, but I was really happy to just play with my friends."

Sukun’s members enjoyed the experiment, and although the ensemble has no plans of future performances, they are entertaining the possibility of reuniting at some point. Fawzi intends to return to Beirut, where he is currently based, to continue studying music and composing new pieces.  Magdy and Noga will also continue to play in bands around Cairo, while Shady will be back in Alexandria furthering his music education.

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