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Fahd Ballan: the voice of the mountain

Syrian and Arab people still remember the late great Syrian actor and singer Fahd Ballan, who was renowned for his national songs that call for adherence to land and love to the homeland and people. He started singing early in his childhood, and he used to sing at weddings and popular parties held in his village and nearby areas in Sweida city. Like most of his generation of artists who started their careers in the early sixties, he was exposed to a world of influences of those decades of music glory which was realized at the hands of important musicians such as Mohammed Abdel Wahab, Riyad al-Sunbati , Mohammad al-Qasdabji and many others. His voice and looks made him a symbol of masculinity and won him many acting roles in his youth. He was called by many music critics as the singer of manhood.

 In 1957, he tried to join the Syrian Radio but he failed in the interview for the first time as he tried to imitate Abdel Wahab and Farid al-Atrash. But later, he managed to pass when he sang songs based on the heritage of his city.

Ballan’s first song was composed by Soheil Arafeh in 1959 celebrating the first unity in modern Arab history between Syria and Egypt.

The song was followed by many national and romantic songs that gained him wide reputation all over the Arab world. In Egypt, Ballan achieved remarkable success as great singers and composers such as Mohammed Abdul Wahab and Abdul Halim Hafez admired his talent and unique singing colour.

Fahd Ballan had an amazingly strong and beautiful voice. Many people think that some of his songs including "Larchab Haddak Yal Motor" and "Irkibna Al Houssan" constitute the basis for the type of Arabic music that was later known as "songs from the mounts". Ballan’s voice was so sonorous and earthy like the land from which he came. It has its own effect, as he played with his tongue and basically, every part of his mandibles to create a very self-distinctive voice that even Umm-Khulthoum herself has said once that it was, "a new voice, nothing's like his voice in the Arab world".

Following his great success as a singer, Egyptian film production companies presented him with great offers to act in many films.  He starred in fourteen films along with Dureid Lahham, Nihad Qalei’ and the Lebanese singers Sabah and Najah Salam.

During the October War of Liberation in 1973, Fahd returned to Damascus and presented scores of national songs through many national and zealous songs that focus on the love of homeland and readiness to offer sacrifices for it.

At the end of the 1970s, he returned to his birthplace Sweida and tried to establish a branch for Actors’ Union there. Throughout his eventful career, he presented about 1000 songs composed by outstanding Arab composers such as Baligh Hamdi, Farid al-Atrash, Filmon Wahbeh and many others. He died in 1997 aged 64, leaving behind rich legacy for generations. The great Palestinian poet Samih al-Qassem described Ballan as a unique artistic phenomenon that could not be repeated.  He died of a brain haemorrhage leaving his legacy that is still loved by Arab audience.

  K.Q.

Syrian Drama in Ramadan Focuses on Crisis

DAMASCUS- Defying the hazardous locations and risky circumstances Syria has been experiencing, the Syrian Drama closely touches on people's concerns and will be present during the holy month of Ramadan as usual, according to a Xinhua report published yesterday.

 Many Syrian drama shows, to be screened during Ramadan, will bring to surface the people's concerns and the repercussions of the 28-month-long crisis.

Despite the difficulties behind the filming, the Syrian drama went forward, according to Al-Thawra newspaper.

It recounted that some of the crewmen blanketed the narrow lanes behind the stage to sleep there and some others took the risk and went to hotspots in the country to cover footage.

"This year, some TV series shed light on the current crisis and got deep into its implications to reveal its social and humanitarian impacts, which has made them popularly demanded," the paper said.

Some 22 works will be aired in Syria throughout Ramadan, according to media reports, including a TV series by  famous Syrian director Najdat Anzour: "Taht Sama'a al-Watan" (Arabic for Under the Homeland's Sky), which consists of ten separate three-episode stories concerning the current crisis.

One of its episodes titled "Nezouh," or "displacement," shows the suffering of Syrians who were obliged to leave their homes seeking safer places in the country.

"We love watching Syrian drama during Ramadan.  It's diverse and lovely and fill up our time during the fasting day," Samar Makdissi, a mother of three, told Xinhua.

For her part, Nour Aji, a 30-year-old woman, wished the drama this year touch upon the current crisis more and inspire people to overcome the repercussion of the crisis.

H. Mustafa

Sculpture Workshop At Damascus Citadel

Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions, and is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving (the removal of material) and modeling (the addition of material, as clay), in stone, metal, ceramics, wood and other materials. Since modernism, shifts in sculptural process led to an almost complete freedom of materials and process. A wide variety of materials may be worked by removal such as carving, assembled by welding or modeling, molding or casting .

The directorate of fine arts in Damascus in cooperation with the Applied Art Institute in Damascus held a sculpture workshop at Damascus Citadel. The forum will continue through  July 3rd with the participation of 11 artists from different Syrian cities presenting wood artistic works that reflect their views toward life, and the world in general. Syria Times met participants in the workshop who spoke their minds out.

Artist Hamza Yaghi a lecturer at the Applied Art Institute, Department of sculpture, said to ST: " I work with wood, stone and bronze sculpture. by this kind of art the sculptor depicts his inner feelings".

" Every artist in the meeting submitted one wood work that presents his artistic point of view. I do an abstract  work  which reflects the controversial relationship of life in general . what we experience in our social life is a connected relationship between two things as victory and loss , love and hate, etc. so my work which is made of pine consists of a humanitarian situation  ." he added.

 The Director of Fine Art at the Ministry of Culture, and Forum organizer, Imad Aldin Kashoot affirmed the significance of this workshop by saying: " the importance of holding such cultural activity at Damascus Citadel with the participation of 11 prominent  Syrian artists, students of Applied Art institute, is to create dialogue among artists , and to display their works to the audience". The Artist completes his work and leaves the interpretation to the people,  especially that all artists in the workshop have their local and international  experience  and each has his own artistic style".

Kashoot presented a work that symbolizes a face from Syria which manifests the fact that Syria is  the cradle of civilizations, art and culture.

Artist Ibrahim Awad participated in a work that reflects vocabulary, characters, musical dialogue. He sees that music is a harmony among  band and instruments which consist of  a complete work human beings look for.

" Even people need harmony in their relations to be lofty just like music, to achieve love , to quit fighting and live peacefully, to reach a high level of living as human beings".  He said  

Artist Awad , Who has a master degree in art and architecture from Germany, believes that the successful artist is the one who  completes his piece of art but leaves it mysterious, and let the audience translate it. Mystery is a major element  in good work because art is a kind of philosophy ." Art encompasses imagination, simply it is the point of view of the artist toward things". He concluded.

Participant artists are:I mad kashoot, Muhmad bajano,Aktham Abdel Hamid, Ibrahim Awad, Obai Hatoom, Hamza Yaghi, Ghazi Ana,Hisham al-Ghado, Issa Salama, Wael Dahhan, and Waddah Salama.

N.H.Khider

UNESCO Adds 6 Syrian Sites to List of World Heritage in Danger

PHNOM PENH-  The World Heritage Committee has decided to place the six World Heritage sites in Syria on the List of World Heritage in Danger so as to draw attention to the risks they are facing because of the situation in the country, according to a UNESCO's press statement on Thursday.

"According to Xinhua, the statement said that "the danger listing is intended to mobilize all possible support for the safeguarding of these properties which are recognized by the international community as being of outstanding universal value for humanity as a whole."

Syria has six sites on the World Heritage List: Ancient City of Damascus, Ancient city of Bosra, Site of Palmyra, Ancient City of Aleppo, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal'at Salah El-Din, and Ancient Villages of Northern Syria.

"All six sites were placed on the list of World Heritage in Danger on Thursday during the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee in Phnom Penh," Roni Amelan, UNESCO's spokesman, told Xinhua over telephone.

According to the UNESCO's document, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies noted that due to the armed conflict situation in Syria, the conditions are no longer present to ensure the conservation and protection of the Outstanding Universal Value of the six World Heritage properties located in Syria.

The UNESCO also called upon all parties associated with the situation in Syria to "refrain from any action that would cause further damage to the cultural heritage of the country and to fulfill their obligations under international law by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage".

H. Mustafa

"Iskenderun in the Middle of Turkish Revolution"

PARIS- Syrian Students National Union (NUSS) in cooperation with the Syrian community in Paris, recently organized a symposium entitled "Iskenderun is a part of Syria in the Middle of the Turkish Revolution" at the Syrian Cultural Centre in Paris. A number of French citizens, independent journalists, and professors attended the symposium.

Belgian journalist of Iskenderun origin Bahar Kimyongür  said: "The Turkish revolution is a result of the failure of Erdogan's  policy in the previous period since he divested Turkey from secularism on which modern Turkey is based ".

Kimyongür clarified that Erdogan has gone far away from merciful Islam which most of Turks believe in.  He also declared that there are "ships putting their loads of Jihadists in Turkey so that these jihadists infiltrate into Syria".

The journalist stressed that Turks, in their various spectrum, reject the role played by Erdogan's government against Syria especially after the Rihania explosions that revealed his government dishonesty and lies ".

 The Belgian journalist warned against the spread of American and European training camps in Antakya, but he pointed out that there are some signs that the USA intends to get rid of Erdogan after his defeat in Syria.

 

For his part Jumaa Bassam Tahhan, an expert of Syrian origin and who is a specialist in global espionage issues, assured that turning Taqsim square into a trading center is a big challenge to the leftist Turkish parties, particularly because this is the square where tens of protesters, supporting these parties, were killed during the demonstrations that swept Turkey in the seventies of last century.

From his part, retired General  and Strategic Advisor, specialized in international terrorism and espionage affairs Alan Korfez, confirmed that Syria is being exposed to a global conspiracy by 29 Arab and foreign countries, noting that a large number of  mercenaries, who entered Syria, are funded by Qatar , Saudi Arabia in cooperation with Turkey with the aim of undermining the Syria-backed resistance project.

Other participants emphasized  that the Turkish Taqsim revolution will continue till the downfall of Erdogan. They stressed that Syria's success in creating a giant market, spreading from the Arabian Gulf to northern Turkey and Iran, is considered a threat to America's economic interests in the region.

N.H. Khider