International win for the director of the Fayhaa Choir: a unique Arab experience

International win for the director of the Fayhaa Choir: a unique Arab experience
International win for the director of the Fayhaa Choir: a unique Arab experience

With every global success achieved by the “Al-Fayhaa National Choir” under the leadership of its creator, Maestro Barkiev Taslakian, he confirms that this unique Arab choral experience, which was born in Tripoli in 2003, writes its own history, not only in the world of music, but also in its cultural and social impact and on The lives of hundreds of young men and women.

And the latest of these successes was embodied in the announcement of the victory of the choir director, Rola Abu Bakr, in the elections of the International Federation of Choral Music (IFCM), and her obtaining the position of vice president. She is the only Arab who participated and won these elections, representing Lebanon and the Arab world.

This victory is an exceptional event in the career of “Al-Fayhaa Choir”, which is nearly twenty years old. It is a great victory for Lebanon, especially since it comes one year after the Minister of Culture, Muhammad al-Murtada, announced that the Fayhaa Choir had become the official Lebanese national choir.

What is the winning story?
Inside the “Fayhaa Choir” center in the port of Tripoli, where Rola Abu Bakr also hails and lives, she spoke with Al-Modon about the story of her winning the position of Vice President of the IFCM, which is the International Federation of Choral Music, which was established in 1982, with the aim of facilitating communication and exchange between choir musicians around the world. around the world, and implement a variety of projects and programs in this framework. This union was registered in America and is based in Portugal.

Rola Abu Bakr (40 years old) deals with her victory simply and humbly, despite its universal value and dimensions, and finds it a natural fruit of years of efforts made by the choir, led by Maestro Barkiev.

This talented young woman, passionate and professional in choral singing, says: “What we are achieving in the Al-Fayhaa Choir did not come true even in my childhood dreams when singing on stage was a big and painful dream for me, thinking that it would not be achieved. And if Maestro Barkif was not in Tripoli, it would not have been.” I achieved something with all the choir members.”

She tells us that the International Federation of Choral Music contacted her about two years ago, and she was granted membership without being involved in the elections, in order to represent the Arab region. However, this year, Abu Bakr decided to run for the elections, amid fierce and strong competition, and she could have won a few votes to represent the Arab region, but she won the second highest number of votes in the General Assembly elections, which came as a surprise to everyone.

Abu Bakr considers Maestro Barkaev to be the first person to be credited with this success, because he is the one who believed that strengthening the network of global relations is an ideal path for the success and brilliance of the choir.

Al-Fayhaa Choir conducted by Maestro Barkiev Taslakian

History of brilliance
“Al-Fayhaa Choir” is the most pioneering artistic experiment that brought Tripoli and Lebanon to the world, at the hands of Maestro Barkif, who had adventures with young men and women from Tripoli. Since its establishment in 2003, the choir has become a center for young musical talents in Tripoli. Soon after its founding, he gained international recognition for his work in reviving Arabic music. Thus, it became the first Arab choir in the world, feeding on the social projects it worked on as part of its identity and aspirations.

Here, Abu Bakr says, “Choral art did not exist in Arab culture, and it developed with the development of the Fayhaa choir, as everyone admits.” For example, a choir was established in Saudi Arabia by a Lebanese student in the Fayhaa Choir, and it worked on training young Saudi men and women on choral singing. He also founded the “Al-Fayhaa” choir in Morocco, as well as in Jordan, and contributed to the maturation of a number of experiments. Also in Egypt, where the Fayhaa Choir had an office there, he worked to establish a number of choirs there.

About six years ago, Abubakar held a membership position in The International Music Council (IMC), the highest international music authority. She says, “One of our most important goals is to encourage a culture of collective singing, and to spread our music abroad, and our presence in this organization and international federations helps us a lot.”

With her entry into the IFCM, Abu Bakr seeks to double the number of Arabs in the federation, and to contribute more to spreading the culture of Arab choral art.

Rola and the choir
Opposite to its main branch in Tripoli, Al-Fayhaa Choir owns two branches in Beirut and Chouf, and includes no less than 120 professional people from various Lebanese regions, between the ages of 14 and 40. Over the years, the choir was able to travel with its various members to more than 40 countries around the world, and it received the support of the local community, “because it positively affects the lives of young people, unleashes their energies, and teaches them the meaning of discipline, commitment, and work with sincerity.”

Abu Bakr acknowledges that the choir faces great difficulties in financing, but since 2009, it has been working on social projects with international and non-governmental organizations, in order to enhance their role in building peace and social cohesion in marginalized areas and within the Syrian and Palestinian refugee camps.

Abu Bakr’s victory comes in parallel with the Fayhaa Choir’s representation of Lebanon in the “International Symposium of Choral Music” 2023, which was held in Istanbul. The choir is also preparing this year to visit Syria and Jerash in Jordan, not to mention other invitations from France, Germany, Denmark, Saudi Arabia and other countries.

Before and after the choir
Rola Abu Bakr goes back to her upbringing in her family’s humble home in El-Mina, when she loved singing and found it an escape from everything around her, so that her voice was “loud” as she described it in the corridors of her school. Abu Bakr did not find anyone to hold her hand to achieve her dream before the “Fayhaa Choir”. Later, I specialized in social work at the Jesuit University, and he was also passionate about this field. I worked in the Disabled Forum and in the municipalities of the North. She also established the first development office in the Federation of Fayhaa Municipalities.

In 2004, Abu Bakr joined the Fayhaa Choir, a year after its foundation, and her decision was greatly surprised by her surroundings, because for his sake she left her job, and it was not known at the time.

She says, “The maestro didn’t wait until he discovered my voice and that I could sing alone with the choir, and take solo singing roles.”

Since 2005, she started helping the maestro with logistics, especially with the start of world tours, until she became the choir director. She added enthusiastically, “First of all, I am a singer in the Fayhaa choir, and this is what interests me. Then all other titles come, and through it I combine my passion for singing and social work.”

Abu Bakr talks about Maestro Barkaif as the spiritual father of the various members of the Fayhaa Choir, and their ideal, despite his great difficulty in planning and dealing, “but we understand him a lot.” If he had not been an extraordinary, difficult and exceptional artist, according to her, the choir would not have soared to this level of universality.

Abu Bakr hopes that a documentary film will be made about the success stories of the choir’s young men and women, and the extent of its impact on the lives of its members.