August 4th 2020. A day that will forever be engraved in the memory of every Lebanese. The blast that struck the Port of Beirut destroyed the surrounding residential neighborhoods, and caused dramatic casualties, leaving many dead or injured, bringing about massive material damage. Among the centers that have been severely affected by this explosion is the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon (CCCL), where children diagnosed with cancer are treated at no cost to their parents, inasmuch as this center entirely relies on generous donations to provide treatment for the patients.
Following this disaster, MHF decided to organize the Orchestral Christmas Online Concert,Love & Light, led by Maestro Harout Fazlian. The proceeds from this event went entirely to the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon. The supporters who purchased their ticket got to witness, in avant-première, an unparalleled magical artwork, in terms of musical concept and theatrical execution. The concert was then made available to all, in addition to the Children of the CCCL, via the special MTV dedicated broadcast, on the 28th of December 2020.
The Love & Light Orchestral Theatrical Christmas Concert, was held Under the Patronage of the Austrian Embassy in Lebanon, MHF PRODUCTIONS, in collaboration with Casino du Liban with the support of the strategic partners MTV, KAMSYN PR, MAZE, LIBRAIRIE ANTOINE and HAROUN STUDIOS. The concert was held without an audience at the Casino du Liban, in accordance with COVID-19 safety measures and restrictions.
Christmas arrived at a rather critical time in Lebanon’s history putting in question the relevance of any festivities. However, it was necessary to keep the tradition of Christmas alive, as to celebrate tradition is to breathe life, hope and faith. In this context, Maestro Harout Fazlian and despite all struggles, insisted on creating a multi-dimensional innovative concept entitled “Love & Light”. This successful Orchestral Theatrical Christmas Concert was not only an example of cultural resistance, but aimed also at supporting the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon (CCCL) to pursue its mission. Furthermore, it helped directly varied artistic communities (more than 250 artists, musicians, technicians, etc.) thanks to generous donations made by philanthropists and arts lovers with the aim of bringing a breath of life, hope and faith to the distressed Lebanese population.
Ounousa.com one of the main media partners of the event, conducted the special interviews below, with some of the organizers and supporters of this unique event.
Support of the Austrian Embassy
The Austrian Embassy in Lebanon has shown its full support for the Love & Light Concert, as His Excellency Ambassador Dr. René Paul Amry explained. Because, the total proceeds of the event went to the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon to support cancer patients, especially children. Also, since music and fine arts can go a long way in treating the post-traumatic stress disorder that the Lebanese have experienced on account of the August 4 blast, at a time when they have not yet recovered from the traumas of the civil war.
As the Austrian Ambassador to Lebanon Dr. René Amry mentioned, music and arts could be the first step towards healing. However, it is a must for the Lebanese society to keep going forward, and take complementary steps so that the demands of the survivors can be heard, the causes and responsibilities determined, and the reforms crucial for Lebanon carried out. What Dr. René Amry is most thrilled about is that the patients themselves had the opportunity to enjoy this theatrical masterpiece that was also broadcasted online.
The Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon is suffering
This event, comes at a difficult time for the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon. As those in charge of the center indicate, that it has been facing a deficit of up to 2.5 million dollars. To top it off, the August 4th explosion has caused great material damage to the center. This increased the need for donations that the center is desperately trying to collect in various ways, one of which is the center’s rescue fund, launched at the end of 2019. Therefore, the Love & Light initiative chose to supporte the center in its darkest times, in order to continue providing free treatment to the largest possible number of children.
The challenges of organizing an event of such scope
Maestro Harout Fazlian’s primary purpose was to re-instill hope in the souls of the Lebanese citizens on one hand, and the Children’s Cancer Center on the other. With his dynamic MHF Team, and the support of dedicated strategic partners, and sponsors, this artistic concept materialized in a few days only, going from a creative idea on paper to concrete reality. Not only did the organizers successfully turn the idea into reality, but they also transformed it into a significant theatrical performance with an innovative concept: The style of the play goes far beyond sequenced songs. It is a complete story that unfolds through a beautifully crafted scenario, that adds a touch of hope, and a ray of light, in such difficult times.
The scenario tells the story of a woman, (character played by Takla Chamoun) who suffered from cancer as a child and beat it. The play, thus, conveys a positive message, at a time when many are facing the many aspects of a hard reality. Of course, organizing this concert came with its fair share of challenges, as Christmas initiatives were rare this year, in light of the spread of the Coronavirus and the multiple crisis in Lebanon.
So how was such a challenging work, which brings together more than 250 artists, funded?
According to MHF, more than one party, whether individuals or companies, devoted their efforts to collect funds for this concert. All of this took place within just two weeks, and the initiative was met with a positive response, be it because of its high artistic value, or because of the essential cause behind it: allocating the proceeds of the event to the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon.
Casino du Liban hosts the Love & Light Christmas Concert
With the Casino du Liban hosting this big event, all eyes were on this iconic touristic facility, which is also suffering from the effects of the economic crisis and the Coronavirus pandemic. The casino management pointed out that despite all the difficulties and the decline in profits since last year, this institution is still active. Not only in terms of providing a safe experience for customers, but also in supporting charitable initiatives and high-end artistic activities. The Salle des Ambassadeurs hosted the concert. The casino operators stressed on the importance of hope, and have the will to rise, and carry on.
An event with a special communications spark
The Love & Light concert constituted a significant communications and public relations challenge, as it was organized on very short notice. Yet the event achieved successful online visibility and presence, unlike traditional Christmas events which tend to be restricted to live, in venue audiences only. The major challenge was for all the organizers and contributors to be able to design, execute, synchronize and communicate to deliver such an essential event, in less than ten days.
As strategic partners of the event, KAMSYN PR deployed its special communications, public relations and fundraising expertise to support MHF organizers to achieve the desired outcome. Within the communications strategy designed by KAMSYN PR team, social media constituted an important pillar, in addition to diplomatic corps and donor relations. First, to spread the word about this initiative to the Lebanese inside and outside of Lebanon, and then to generate positive anticipation, engagement with the international community of the friends of Lebanon. Emile E. Issa, communications strategist and public relations expert, founder of KAMSYN PR, underlines that the digital efforts aimed also at including the audience as an active part of the show, rather than being limited to the role of passive spectators.
Emile E. Issa describes the campaign as thrilling, and admits that joining the MHF organizers on such an important concert was motivated by one of the essential elements at the core of KAMSYN PR‘s purpose. Which is to spread a message of happiness, culture and hope. KAMSYN PR joins the organizers in encouraging donations for the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon.
This non-profit concert is performed by exceptional renowned artists and choirs who took part of the project without a single hesitation: Takla Chamoun as Lead Actress with Cynthia Karam, Amanda Maalouf, Carla Sleiman, Nina Abou Fadel, Ralph Abboud, Eliya Francis, Georges Noun and Lucas Sakr on the Piano.The scenography of a warm house of Beirut beautifully executed by Ramzi Abi Fadel and Petra Abou Sleiman will come to life thanks to the powerful sounds of the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra as well as young Lebanese musicians, under the baton of Maestro Fazlian. Takla Chamoun will recite a poignant Arabic version of an E.E. Cummings poem brilliantly written by the great Henri Zoghaib.
- Mr. Souheil Hajjar
- Mr. Rabih Skeiki
- Mr. Raymond Tarabey
- Mrs. Thérèse Hage
- Mr. Marc Haddad
- Mrs. Tia Saber
- Mr. Fady Moussali
- Mrs. Maya Jalbout
- Mrs. Thérèse Dina
- Mr. Roni Bridi