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Local choir brings magic of Christmas to Amman

By Camille Dupire - Dec 05,2017 - Last updated at Dec 05,2017

AMMAN — The Terra Sancta Theatre in Jabal Luwebdeh on Sunday resonated with excitement and nostalgia, as the local choir Dozan wa Awtar performed its seasonal show titled “Imagine: An Unconventional Christmas”.

“Christmas is truly an intimate experience that reflects what makes you feel good and at peace,” said Shireen Abu Khader, the founder of Dozan, noting that this year’s show took spectators on a “journey through time and place”.

Combining some of the season’s classics like “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” with modern tunes such as Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” originally twisted with a retro 1920’s vibe, the show offered the audience a wide range of experiences, going from peaceful tranquility to toe-tapping excitement.

“Because our choir is so diverse, with people from all backgrounds, all denominations and origins, we wanted to create a show that reflected on that diversity,” said Yazan Kakish, the assistant director, adding “by including Arabic and English, older and newer songs, we tried to make the performance accessible and appealing to everyone both in terms of language and style”.

Starting off with the classic hit “You Made Me Love You” performed by the 30-member choir, the show took a 360 degree turn when it switched to a Roaring Twenties version of the pop song “Bad Romance”.

“It was surely difficult to go from Lady Gaga to an Arabic version of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ by Dean Martin, but it was our way to show how diverse musical influences can melt into a harmonious Christmas show, all the way from the 1920s to nowadays,” Kakish told The Jordan Times.

At the forefront of carefully selected fairy images and videos, a trio of actors transported the spectators into a world of wonders and delight, in a performance filled with witty humour and contagious energy.

“For this year’s Christmas show, we focused more on acting, as director Tala Nazzal designed it in the script,” said conductor and musical director Nedy Muna, noting “this season was especially challenging as we had many new members and had to make sure they all blended in the choral singing in terms of pitch, tune and rhythm” .

Syrian musicians Nareg Abajian (keyboard), Kusai Diqron (guitar) and Bassem Al Jaber (bassist) had the audience grooving throughout the show, along with fellow musicians coming from Russia, the US, Germany and the Netherlands.

In a chilling performance of Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song”, solo guest singer Tamer Gargour captivated a jaw dropped audience, accompanied by the perfectly tuned harmonies of the choir and band.

“I believe that, in any musical performance, everyone adds his/her own personal ingredient to the overall recipe. For this show, we all had room for improvisation, and we were very free to interpret the character we were playing,” Kakish said.

Far from being a religiously connoted show, “Imagine” built on the popular culture and the well-known Christmas musical genre to plunge the diverse audience into a 90-minute long journey 

Dozan wa Awtar (“Tuning and Strings” in Arabic) was founded in 2002 by Abu Khader to promote choral music and innovative performance art in Jordan and across the region, according to its founder.

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