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Dr. Shereen Khairallah lectures at Haigazian University:
Dr. Shereen Khairallah Lectures at Haigazian University:
The Legacy of Wadih Sabra
(1867-1952)

"Although much has been written about him (Wadih Sabra), especially in foreign encyclopedias, he is little remembered today, except as the composer of the Lebanese National Anthem", said Dr. Shereen Khairallah during her lecture delivered at Haigazian University, on October 27, 2005.

The Legacy of Wadih Sabra was the first lecture of the Cultural Hour series of the academic year 2005-2006.

"During this past year, one of the strongest and moving symbols of Lebanon, in addition to its flag, has been its National Anthem, popularly known as Kulluna lil Watan" noted Dr. Arda Ekmekji, Dean of Arts and Sciences, at her opening welcome.

"Since little is known about the composer Wadih Sabra, I thought it was a good way to start the year, with Dr. Khairallah sharing her research outcome with us", Ekmekji added.

Dr. Shereen Khairallah, author of numerous articles, whose multidisciplinary teaching has included History, English Literature, Language and Cultural Studies, started her presentation by introducing the audience to the biography of Wadih Sabra.

"He was a pioneer in music, a musician, composer, inventor, and founder of the National Conservatory of Music (today called the National Higher Conservatory of Music)", Khairallah noted.

Quoting Professor Lavignac, Dean of the Conservatoire de Paris, Khairallah added: "The musical personality of Wadih Sabra is unlike anyone else? His vast intellect has turned him into a musical polyglot? speaking and writing with the same ease two totally distinct musical languages, Eastern and Western, while understanding their charm and beauty, which is surely a unique feat in the history of art."

As to Sabra's music, he is best remembered by the Lebanese public as the composer of the Lebanese National Anthem (words by Rashid Nakhle), which was officially adopted by the Lebanese Government through a presidential decree of 12 July 1927. However, as a composer, he left a great number of works, many of which have unfortunately disappeared.

Dr. Khairallah listed some of his operas and vocal music:
1) The Shepherds of Canaan, opera in three acts, in Turkish, libretto by Halide Edib Hanun
2) The Two Kings (Hiram and Solomon), first opera in Arabic, libretto by Father Marun Ghusn, presented Beirut 1927
3) A number of Protestant hymns
4) Le Chant de Moise (The Song of Moses), oratorio, cantata for soli and chorus
5) Souvenir of a Mother, soli and quartet words by Shibli Mallat (1876-1961)
6) Our Mother Earth, soli and quartet, words by Rushdi Ma'louf (1915-1980)
7) What ? All is Ended, words by Sa'id 'Aql

As Dr. Ekmekji noted at the beginning of the lecture, the tune of the National Anthem has become so popular recently that even cellular phones ring with its melody. It is thus a great challenge for Lebanon to sufficiently research and appreciate Wadih Sabra?s legacy.

Mira Yardemian
Public Relations Director
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