The opening of the new-build National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) in Fustat was accompanied by a lavish ceremony involving marching bands, synchronised lighting, and a line-up of Egyptian actors and singers. Directed and organised by the Media Hub Saadi-Gohar Company, the proceedings were served by a multi-million-dollar investment made by the Egypt Government to re-paint, re-light, and equip downtown Cairo with sound.

The centrepiece of the production was the transfer of the mummies of the ancient kings and queens of Egypt from their previous resting place in the Egyptian Museum to their new home – a UNESCO project designed to help safeguard and preserve Egypt’s cultural heritage.

Mummies on the move from the Egyptian Museum to the NMEC (Pic: Ó Karem Ahmed/Shutterstock/SIPA)Twenty-two mummies were paraded through in the heart of Cairo in chronological order of their reigns – from the 17th Dynasty ruler, Seqenenre Taa II, to Ramses IX, who reigned in the 12th century BC – while Egyptians –and the world – watched and listened to the historic pageant.

With each mummy already encased in a nitrogen-filled box to prevent decomposition caused by oxygen exposure, vehicles dressed as Nile boats fitted (with heavy shock absorbers to protect the fragile treasures from bumps in the road) were the event’s centrepiece. ‘Through this whole parade, live music was played by an orchestra, and a mass choir inside the orchestral hall in the NMEC was broadcast widely,’ says Mafdy Thabet, Chief Engineer and System Designer of Dream Studio.

Second engineer and co-designer Youssef Iskander, also of Dream Studio, assisted in the event after Dream Studio was contracted to create sound for the event by Key Films Productions – Adel Abdallah. ‘Our role was to provide front-of-house and monitor systems for the orchestra and the choir inside the NMEC,’ explains Mafdy. ‘We also handled mix duties in the museum, the broadcast mix for TV, and the whole parade at Tahrir Square.’

At the NMEC, L-Acoustics systems covered both indoor and outdoor concert locations. The outdoor area was engineered by Remon Emad, with eight groundstacked K2 cabinets (four per stack) together with four KS28 subs. Within the orchestral hall, two hangs of six K2 were complemented with six KS28 subs, and four X12 boxes for front fill.

Nader Abbassi conducted the United Philharmonic Orchestra with 80 musicians and 88 singers in a new composition by Egyptian composer Hesham Nazih. The piece set to song lyrics in old Egyptian againstdiverse instrumental elements, including a replica of a Rababa, an ancient Egyptian stringed instrument, and a traditional Nai (pan flute), alongside the philharmonic ensemble. Two L-Acoustics Syva boxes and a further eight X12 provided monitoring for the performers on stage.

The event was transmitted live by the Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities, in addition to being carried on an additional 500 channels. ‘We transmitted multi-channels via the satellite to deliver the music from NMEC to Tahrir Square, with a separate channel transmitting the picture from Tahrir to the screen of the NMEC theatre hall simultaneously, whilst the live broadcast transmitted the whole event to the TV channels,’ explains Mafdy.

NMEC Museum orchestral hall, two hangs of L-Acoustics K2 with KS28 subsEgypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi leading the ceremony, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) Zurab Pololikashvili, and other key figures attended the parade.

‘Participating artists have represented a side of Egyptian soft power that confirms the lead of the most ancient civilization on earth,’ stated Minister of Culture Ines Abdel-Dayem.

Delivering high-quality sound for the ensemble in the temporary theatre was not without challenges. The walls and ceiling of the hall were of ‘drywall’ (gypsum board) construction, with PA hanging points extremely tight to the venue walls due to projection and lighting constraints. With the assistance of L-Acoustics consultant, Andrea Taglia, Soundvision software was used to predict and measure acoustic performance. The modelling process resulted in adjusting the angles of the K2 arrays. ‘For the first three boxes, we used 70° angles; for the last three, we increased to 90° angles to reduce the reflections on the walls,’ Mafdy explains, having worked with acoustics consultant Joseph Habib on the set-up. ‘Additionally, using the graphical interface of L-Acoustics Network Manager, we adjusted the FIR of several boxes to ensure consistent sound throughout the venue.’

‘After the event, we were very happy with the extremely encouraging feedback of the people working in the music industry in Egypt, both musicians and sound engineers,’ he reports.

Egypt’s authorities hope that the new museum, opening fully later this month, will help revitalise the tourism industry, which has suffered under pandemic restrictions. The exhibits – now in the NMEC Royal Hall of Mummies, designed to give the illusion of being in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor – are already open to the general public.


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