Cairo choir sends musical message of hope amid virus gloom
The video is colorful, the tune cheerful and the lyrics promise better times ahead.
“The day will surely come, near or far it will come,” the singers belt out in Arabic.
“A new dawn shall shine. Everyone shall rejoice. ... That day shall be a feast. Hand in hand, we will return,” they sing, waving at each other from their on-screen tiles. In a corner of the screen, a sign language interpreter performs the song.
With their concerts on hiatus and their usual routine of rehearsals upended by the coronavirus, members of the Cairo Celebration Choir joined virtually with musicians and soloists to put out a hopeful message amid the virus gloom.
“The main comments we received: it’s joyful and it gives hope,” said choir founder and artistic director Nayer Nagui, who wrote the lyrics and had composed the music years ago for another project.
“Lots of friends they told me, ‘you know, when I don’t feel very well, I put the song.’... It is spreading a joyful spirit, and this is what we want.”
The video has garnered about 324,000 views on the choir’s Facebook page since August, with many praising its cheerful message and style. The song also has been released on digital music platforms and aired on the radio in Egypt.
Participants individually recorded the song -- titled “El Youm” or “The Day” -- on mobile phones. The sound engineer is “the real hero,” Nagui said.
The seeds for the upbeat song were planted in downbeat days. Lockdown time was a struggle for Nagui, a self-described “workaholic” with a schedule normally planned months ahead.
“I didn’t know whether this career will come back again or not, will we do music again or not,” he said. “It was very frustrating and confusing.”
Two of the choir’s concerts were canceled in March, and Nagui found himself unable to work. He watched hundreds of similar-style virtual music videos that circulated in those days, and reflected on the concept of time in lockdown and how it should be spent.
“And then it evolved to when this time will pass, I should definitely be a different person,” he said. “I have to be a better version of myself.”
And so the choir sings: “When that day comes, I will have surely reconsidered many beliefs. Young or old, this is the time for growth.”
Comprised of more than 100 members, the choir brings together people from different professions, bound together by their passion for music.
Miriam Benyamein has been singing with the choir for more than 15 years. Each week, she looked forward to rehearsals, a reprieve from the pressures of work and life.
“For us to get together and to hear each other’s voice and see each other is something that we took for granted,” she said. “But it is really a blessing.”
Taking part in the project, she said, was an uplifting experience. The yearning for togetherness has helped make the song relatable to many, she said.
“We are telling people: ‘Don’t worry, There’s hope.’”
While nonstop news about the effects of the coronavirus has become commonplace, so, too, have tales of kindness. “One Good Thing” is a series of AP stories focusing on glimmers of joy and benevolence in a dark time. Read the series at https://apnews.com/hub/one-good-thing
Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through the Religion News Foundation. The AP is solely responsible for this content.