By Mary Finnigan - Fez - Celebrating 20 years of musical inspiration from across the globe
By Mary Finnigan – Fez – Celebrating 20 years of musical inspiration from across the globe
Music lovers from all corners of the earth will gather in the Moroccan city of Fez this year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music. Many of them are people who love the festival so much they return year after year – and many will be first time visitors attracted by a unique experience.
A spectacular programme featuring acclaimed artists from four continents will unfold between 13 and 21 June. The highlights includes a tribute to Nelson Mandela by two great African music stars – Youssou N’Dour from Senegal and Johnny Clegg from South Africa.
Africa is also represented by Rokia Traore – the renowned diva from Mali and the young Moroccan singer Nouhaila al Kalai,
Artists from Asia include Bardic Divas from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan – musical poets Raushan Urazbayeva, Ulzhan Baibussynova and Nodira Pirmatova influenced by the cultures of The Silk Route and the steppes. There are drupad songs by Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar from India and music from the Arab world from Iraq’s Kadhem Saher.
An eclectic range of performances originate from Europe this year, including the St Ephraim Choir from Hungary, Roberto Alagna from France in a special creation for the Fez Festival with The Khoury Project and the Celtic traditions of Ireland with Altan.
The Americas are represented by Luzmilla Carpio from Bolivia and in the grand finale with the legendary blues maestro Buddy Guy from the USA.
Evening performances take place in the Arabian Nights splendor of the Bab Makina palace courtyard. Afternoon and some evening events are held in the Andalusian gardens of the Batha Museum, under the sheltering branches of a giant Barbary Oak. For three nights, audiences wander through the alleyways of the Fez old city for the Nights in the Medina concerts at three locations. The festival also includes free concerts on the huge Boujloud square and the Fez Forum – Giving Soul to Globalization. The forum is a powerhouse for leading edge thinking by activists, academics and religious leaders.
Each year the festival revolves around a theme. The Conference of the Birds, chosen for 2014, highlights Fez as a rendezvous not only for exciting musical diversity, but also the place where cultures from all corners of the earth come together in a spirit of mutual appreciation.
The first Sacred Music Festival took place in 1994, founded by Faouzi Skali – a Fassi (native of Fez) scholar and Sufi adept. Sufism is the moderate, pluralist and esoteric branch of Islam. It is practised by millions of devotees in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, the Maghreb and west Africa.
Dr Skali’s mission is to forge a link between ancient values and modern life:
“I want what we represent with the festival to continue into the future as a model for peaceful collaboration. We need a new way of understanding our problems – a way that goes beyond economics. We forget our emotions – but we can reconnect with them through music. Emotions are the deeper aspect of human experience,” he said.