Talking with Fatma Said

By Annette Zerpner Aug. 2, 2022

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Fatma Said © Parlophone LTD photographer James Bort

“Music connects us all; it is our common denominator. I love that we find a moment of peace with one another when we experience music together.”

How did you find your way to study classical singing?

I attended the German School in Cairo. At German schools, special emphasis is placed on music, so I received an in-depth education in this respect. I sang Bach, Mozart, Schumann and Mendelssohn in the choir, but also jazz and many other genres. I became acquainted with a rich repertoire. In addition, I took private singing lessons and participated in “Jugend musiziert” for five years. That’s how I gained my first international connections and had initial successes. In Berlin, Renate Faltin became my professor at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music. I owe so much to her!

So Gendarmenmarkt is like an old acquaintance for you?

Yes, that’s why it was a particularly nice moment when I was asked to do the Konzerthaus residency. I’d seen the advertising pillar with the posters of other artists in residence right in front of the concert hall since my first semester at the university next door. Back then, I often stood in front of it and wondered what it would be like to perform in such a renowned hall. I never dreamed that my photo would also be featured there one day.

What do you hope to use your residency for?

The Konzerthaus was very accommodating and gave me a lot of freedom and space to express myself in every facet. I am truly happy about having been given so much trust and responsibility. I don’t differentiate so much between styles, because music is music for me – and I want to show this diversity. No two of my concerts will be alike; the spectrum ranges from a session through different genres to Strauss songs with the Konzerthausorchester to a musical journey around the Mediterranean.

Clip Fatma Said

Im Clip erzählt Fatma Said von ihrer Leidenschaft für Vielfalt, musikalischen Herausforderungen von Barockarie bis Tango und davon, was ihr das Konzerthaus Berlin bedeutet.

What wil be the role of music from your home country Egypt?

I’m not an Arab singer, but a classical singer. That’s my profession, that’s what I’m judged on, and I want to offer absolutely the same quality as someone whose “native culture” is Western. But I definitely also want to show the audience where I come from. I feel responsible to initiate this kind of cultural exchange and believe that there is no way around a certain give and take. We should not only emphasise our differences, but celebrate them. 

What do you wish for the future in this respect?

That there will be no more pigeonholing at all in the future. The Arab music scene is extremely international – there are composers who are as important in Arab culture as Mozart is in the West. I would like to contribute to them being heard more frequently and have already had pieces written for my voice by some of them.

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