In an Egyptian orchestra, blind women shine

May 20, 2012, 1:16 PM

Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) – Just from hearing it, it’s like any professional orchestra. But the assembly of white-veiled Egyptian women in matching black gowns has a startling difference. Every woman in the orchestra is blind.

The women in Cairo’s Egyptian Blind Girls Chamber Orchestra first learn the songs by reading sheet music in braille. Since it is impossible to read braille and play an instrument at the same time, the musicians must memorize every note of every song. Pacing is also critical because the musicians cannot see the conductor. He merely claps three times to start each song.

The orchestra was born out of the El Nour Wal Amal (Light and Hope) Association, a group founded in 1954 by women volunteers who sought to educate blind women and help them become independent women.

Today the organization provides free education, literacy programs and vocational training to more than 300 blind girls and women. The women learn to thread carpets and weave wicker tables that they sell to help fund the school.

But the association is most known for its orchestra of 38 blind women. The orchestra travels the world playing for embassies, music conservatories and other international hosts.

“They are more successful abroad than here in Egypt, but I hope, God willing, that here in Egypt they will start to be known as well as abroad.” said Amal Fikry, vice president and matriarch of the El Nour Wal Amal Association.

The Blind Girls Chamber Orchestra has performed on five continents in 24 countries.

“We represent Egypt and we represent blind women. We have many challenges and we have to achieve our goals,” said musician Shaimaa Yehia.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

Ukrainian servicemen carry the coffin with the remains of Army Col. Oleksander Makhachek during a f...
Associated Press

As Ukraine loses troops, how long can it keep up the fight?

ZHYTOMYR (AP) — As soon as they had finished burying a veteran colonel killed by Russian shelling, the cemetery workers readied the next hole. Inevitably, given how quickly death is felling Ukrainian troops on the front lines, the empty grave won’t stay that way for long. Col. Oleksandr Makhachek left behind a widow, Elena, and […]
23 days ago
(Instagram photo/@Clayton.Wolfe)...
Wills Rice

Arizona realtor announces new listing on ‘the top-floor’ of Mount Everest

Arizona realtor Clayton Wolfe scaled the treacherous 29,035-foot heights of Mount Everest in Nepal and announced a new listing at the summit.
24 days ago
(Photo by: Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

‘Tiger King’ star ‘Doc’ Antle arrested for money laundering charges

“Tiger King” star “Doc” Antle was arrested by the FBI and expected to appear in court Monday to face federal money laundering charges.
24 days ago
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
Associated Press

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in Israel for talks with political and business leaders

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is in Israel for five days of talks with political and business leaders of the Middle Eastern country.
30 days ago
A man rides a bicycle in front of a building ruined by shelling in Borodyanka, on the outskirts of ...
Associated Press

Russia takes steps to bolster army, tighten grip on Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an order Wednesday to fast track Russian citizenship for residents of parts of southern Ukraine largely held by his forces, while lawmakers in Moscow passed a bill to strengthen the stretched Russian army. Putin’s decree applying to the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions could allow Russia to […]
1 month ago
FILE - McDonald's restaurant is seen in the center of Dmitrov, a Russian town 75 km., (47 miles) no...
Associated Press

De-Arching: McDonald’s to sell Russia business, exit country

McDonald’s is closing its doors in Russia, ending an era of optimism and increasing the country’s isolation over its war in Ukraine. The Chicago burger giant confirmed Monday that it is selling its 850 restaurants in Russia. McDonald’s said it will seek a buyer who will employ its 62,000 workers in Russia, and will continue […]
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
In an Egyptian orchestra, blind women shine