The city of Al Ula is hosting a unique occurrence at the Winter at Tantora Festival, the first of its kind in the Arab world: a musical concert for the late Egyptian singer Umm Kalthoum via hologram technology. Guests attending the concert at Maraya stage will be able to see Umm Kalthoum standing and moving on stage, singing her famous songs accompanied by the orchestra.
Imad Salibi, the project manager talked to AboutHer about this amazing event, yet he kept unveiled some of the details as a surprise for today’s concert: "We have been working on this project years ago, covering all the aspects to produce the hologram projection in perfect accuracy. The supervisors have contacted MBC group asking to host the project in the festival first, before touring other cities in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world".
How long the concert is and will it be aired directly via MBC channel?
The concert is two hours long but only one hour will be on air, so MBC viewers will only watch Umm Kalthoum singing one song.
What will the event include and how many songs will the holographic Umm Kalthoum perform?
Umm Kalthoum will appear in hologram technology singing on the stage for about 60 to 65 minutes. The songs are Enta Omri, Lesah Faker, Alf Layla wa Layla and Serat el-Hob. The rest of the event will include other surprises including an honorary video for Umm Kalthoum, a little girl of Umm Kalthoum family will sing on the stage, an accordion player who used to play on the band of Umm Kalthoum will perform some musical pieces on stage as well. I'll refrain from saying any names or further details lest we unveil other surprises included in the event.
How did you choose the songs from an archive full of songs stamped and carved in the collective popular memory?
The bench mark was to choose songs that are very familiar. The whole concert will introduce 7 songs, 4 of them in the voice of Umm Kalthoum because we wanted her to be the focus and the most popular in the event, and so that she be familiar to those who have indeed lived the era of Umm Kalthoum and for those who haven't known this legendary singer or were very young during her glorious days.
What about the tickets? Will the concert to witness a big turnout?
Actually all tickets are sold now and a very big turnout is expected.
How long have you been working on this project?
The concert is the result of a year-long research process; such a production doesn’t come easily and it is not an easy task you know as there aren't many live concerts in the archives for Umm Kalthoum so we had to recreate her anew, from the point of her standing on the stage to the movement of her hands and face, the dress she will be wearing and many other details also. This had consumed so much effort and research before we have to start the actual implementation of the concert.
Is this the first time the hologram technology is used in the Middle East?
We used the technology during the launch of MBC Egypt but only for few minutes. Introducing a fully-fledged concert in the hologram technology is the first of its kind in the Middle East and the second worldwide. The technology was used abroad only two months ago.
Will this event be touring the Arab world, or it will continue to be limited to Winter at Tantora Festival?
I would like first to say this concert will not be the last via hologram technology; other concerts will be introduced as well for other artists who left our world, so that the other people who are not familiar with their works be able to attend their concerts as if they actually exist on stage. As for this same event, we have on our hands more than one concert in other Arab cities, but for now we are still negotiating and as long as no contracts have been signed yet I cannot disclose any information in this regard.