Beirut & Beyond, the first independent annual showcase festival in Lebanon promoting local and regional young music talents, is back this December in its second edition. met festival director Amani Semaan who offered an inside look on this year’s lineup. Tell us more about the idea behind Beirut & Beyond. Why did you guys decide to launch this festival?

Amani: We first started because we felt there was a need for an independent festival [in Lebanon]... there were previous initiatives but they weren't really sustainable. It’s not just a festival, but also a showcase as we invite professionals to come and see the musicians. It’s creating a platform for exchange and development of the music scene, especially when we don’t have governmental or public support for this kind of thing. What’s special about the Beirut & Beyond independent music festival?

Amani: Many things... Because we work on different levels and our main objective is to export local and regional new music to the international music scene. What we do first is invite professionals to attend, this has never happened here before. We also organize a tour in partnership with the Oslo World Music Festival (sponsors of the event) for selected artists from our lineup and take them to Scandinavia and Europe. This happened last year in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. This year we have Islam Chipsy, Alif, Maurice Luka and Tatanjaret Daghet. Unfortunately, Tanjarit Daghet couldn’t make it because of visa complications. What are some of the challenges you've faced?

Amani: The main challenge is doing a festival in Lebanon because the government is not really cooperative and we don’t have public funds that can help us do it. We don’t even have a kind of logistical assistant for the visas and that kind of stuff. Everything takes time with the bureaucracy and you really have to convince them that you’re doing something for the music scene and for the Lebanese people. How did the festival change from last year to this year?

Amani: Actually last year was much harder because it was our first edition and it was even postponed from September to December because of the political situation at the time. But over this last year I went to Womex, Norway, Morocco and even South Korea, and had meetings to talk about the festival potential exchanges. So this year, we are more established somehow on a local and international level because when I went to Womex, a lot of people had heard about Beirut & Beyond and wanted to discover the scene. We’re proud of it because in one year we have established a reputation for the festival internationally. What does this year’s festival incorporate in terms of activities?

Amani: We don’t just organize concerts, we also organize activities that help the musicians here. This year we have a legal workshop about copyrighting with the Danish Embassy and Danish Musicians’ Union. A Danish lawyer is coming to give a 5-hour workshop. We also have a roundtable with the support of the British council as we’re bringing together people from the UK to discuss the misrepresentation of Middle Eastern and North African music in the European media which I think is very interesting. What kind of audience is Beirut & Beyond aimed at?

Amani: The audience is a young one, but one that is interested in discovering new music. They know that this is the platform where they can listen to good music they've never heard before or perhaps they've heard about them but want to see it live. So mainly, it’s an audience who is keen on discovering new things. How does it feel to have a music festival in winter in the middle of the festive season? Why did you guys go for December?

Amani: Our first choice wasn't December but when we had to postpone last year we figured that it’s a good date because normally nothing is really happening during the first weekend of December. So we thought it’s the beginning of the festive season and people would love to go out, go into the city and listen to good music. How would you invite our readers to attend Beirut & Beyond this year?

Amani: I would say it’s an opportunity to meet 40 different artists from all over the world with very good music, so don’t miss this chance. Come and you’ll enjoy!

To check out the full schedule of events, head to the Beirut & Beyond Festival's Facebook page.

Articles & Media

4 photos

Past Events


Avatar 1
Post to facebook