Grand Concert Marks High Point of LAU’s Centennial Year

Lebanon’s time-honored artistic brilliance graced the university in an uplifting centennial tribute.

By Raissa Batakji

Dr. Al-Kawas (in green) was honored at the end of the concert. In turn, she thanked the maestros, orchestras, narrators, Art Director Tarek Mourad, Art Consultant Lina Khoury and all the teams who made the concert a success.
Maestro Schumann opened the concert with “Il barbiere di Siviglia” by Rossini as a visual timeline of the university’s milestones played in the background.
Dr. Al-Kawas performing “Lubnanu ‘Ud Amalan,” written by the former Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Abdul Aziz Khoja and composed by the artist herself.
The event was attended by former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Minister of Information Ziad Makary, MPs Ibrahim Mneimneh and Elie Khoury, USAID Director Julie Southfield, Head of the Council of Ministers Mahmoud Makié, representatives of the Lebanese Security Forces, ambassadors, diplomats, university presidents, media personalities, and LAU alumni and friends.
The 1,400-member audience was moved by the outstanding performance.
Tenor Antoine Al-Safi.
Thespian Rifaat Torbey.
Multidisciplinary artist Zalfa Chelhot.

As the university crosses its 100-year milestone, its community of leaders, alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends came together to contemplate its storied evolution at an enthralling Centennial Tribute Concert on the Beirut campus June 10.

The concert brought the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra, members of the Lebanese Oriental Orchestra, and guest musicians and actors, to an impressive outdoor stage on the locale of the upcoming centennial graduation ceremonies.

Established in 1999 by Dr. Walid Gholmieh, the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra earned a reputation of excellence and quickly became a national pillar as it delighted audiences with international chefs-d’oeuvre and celebrated Lebanese composers.

Introducing the orchestra at the event, LAU Executive Director of Media and Public Relations Nada Torbey spoke of how it formed a strong foundation for the cultural scene in the region.


That the orchestra is headed by the grande dame of Arabic opera singing and composition Dr. Hiba Al-Kawas was a fitting tribute to the university’s pioneering roots as a women’s college.

“This is an evening to cherish and savor,” said LAU President Michel E. Mawad, “a night of enchantment and beauty, and a sincere ‘thank you’ from LAU to every member of its extended family.”


Quoting a poem by Al-Akhtal Al Saghir about Beirut in 1934, he said: “Beirut: O homeland of civilization and intellect, love builds, estrangement destroys.” On this note, Dr. Mawad spoke about “the profound power of art and culture to transcend boundaries, unite hearts and elevate the human spirit,” and how the concert represented a “testament to the university’s enduring spirit and its vision for the future.”

centennial-tribute-concert-2024-schumann.jpgMaestro Christian Schumann

Conductors Christian Schumann and André Hajj headlined the concert. 

centennial-tribute-concert-2024-andre-hage.jpgMaestro André Hajj

The concert featured spectacular performances by tenor Roy Hage and tenor Antoine Wadih Al-Safi, as well as narration by thespian Rifaat Torbey and multidisciplinary artist Zalfa Chelhot. 

The combination of western and oriental melodies, the classical and the modern, honored the university’s dual identity and diversity.

Lebanese-American Roy Hage’s performance, the first in his homeland, was a true embodiment of this rich diversity. Hage, who has graced the stages of premier opera companies in the US, performed classics such as “E lucevan le stelle” from Tosca by Puccini and modern pieces such as “Maria” by Leonard Bernstein from West Side Story, among others.


The 1,400-member audience was moved by the outstanding performance. Some said it lifted their spirits and transported them back to Lebanon’s golden days when cultural events of this kind were at their pinnacle.

LAU’s story encompasses generations of strong-willed women, visionaries, artists, pioneers, scientists, philanthropists and social servants whose stories left a mark in Lebanon’s trying times. The tribute to LAU’s past and celebration of its outlook to the future carried a message of the enduring spirit it has in common with the country it serves.

“That the university is celebrating its centennial,” said Dr. Al-Kawas, “is a point of national pride that we should all revel in, considering LAU’s stature as a beacon of higher education in Lebanon and beyond.”


“As we embark on our second century, we renew our pledge to provide an exceptional educational experience, nurture intellectual curiosity and equip our students with the skills and knowledge to navigate the complexities of our rapidly evolving world,” asserted Dr. Mawad.

The concert can be viewed on the university’s Facebook page.