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04 juillet 2008

Splendour of chamber, Egyptian music

By Dennis Chua, The News Straits Times

At 8.30pm on July 7 and 8, Egyptian musical splendour arrives at DFP when percussionist Hossam Ramzy and his seven-piece ensemble perform.

They are joined by his belly dancer wife Serena Ramzy.

Born in Cairo, Hossam learned the Egyptian tabla under the tutelage of leading Cairo music teachers.

Soon, the distinctive sound of Hossam's Arabian string arrangements and percussion caught the attention of Peter Gabriel. He was invited to perform on the albums Passion and Us.

Hossam later developed his skills in both string arrangements and production and has performed, arranged and produced songs for artistes such as Yesim Salkim, Celick Erici, Cheb Khaled, Tarkan, Rachid Taha, Faudel and The Gypsy Kings.

In 1994, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame invited Hossam to form a band of Arabian musicians and work on their reunion album No Quarter — Unledded.

This led to Hossam joining them on their historic 1995-1996 reunion world tour.

His extensive discography includes collaborations with Afro-Celt Sound System, Marc Almond, Joan Armatrading, Big Country, Bond, Chick Corea, Anne Dudley, ELO, Boy George, Deborah Harry, Greg Hunter, Jay-Z, Luciano Pavarotti, Rolling Stones, Mary Wilson and Paul Young.

His virtuosity is also demonstrated on scores for film soundtracks which include The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, The Last Temptation Of Christ, The Saint, Stargate, Stealing Beauty and Wings Of A Dove.

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