Thursday, June 21, 2018

Fes Festival Preview Concert - Ustad Daud Khan Sadozai

Ustad Daud Khan Sadozai gave a Fes Festival preview concert on Thursday, June 21, at the beautiful Riad Le Jardin des Biehn. Lauren Crabbe reports for The View From Fez

The setting was befitting of a master Robab (a traditional lute-instrument of Afghanistan) player, with cushions and rugs drawing an intimate crowd closer to the earth. The predominantly French audience was boosted by the arrival of an Australian tour group. They were entranced. The musician’s wise eyes and grandfather beard endeared me to him instantly and I was eager for him to play, though he seemed content to perch off to the side, pensively still. As Daud Khan began to play, a crisp breeze blew through the venue and a calming quiver found my heart.

Stirring the strings, he conjured notes that hopped and skipped and jumped, like the laughter of children running down a hill. A dizzying ebb and flow, moving through his fingers and swaying his entire upper body, warm as Norwegian wood or cradling the nape of a lovers’s neck. I heard golden sunbeams on soft carpet, weathered hands clasping, and the slight mourning of the heart when it realises it’s too cheerful. The sound of happy-sad.

His music appeared to be plucked straight out of enduring love, to the extent where I couldn’t tell if he was improvising or not. The performance was honest and heartening in a way that transcended context. His audience was serene and peaceful, and I craved the space to lie back with closed eyes in a bundle of fabric. A beautiful prelude to the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music.

Ustad Daud Khan Sadozai
Daud Khan, was born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1955. He studied Robab with Ustad Muhammad Umar, who was the most famous Robab interpreter of the classical style as well as the traditional folklore style in his country.

The knowledge about building as well as playing the Robab has become rare, and only a few artists still keep the tradition of the classical robab-style which was mainly represented by Ustad Muhammad Umar in Kabul. Daud Khan is trying to preserve this authentic style of his master’s school.

Daud Khan has studied the North-Indian instrument Sarod, which is a descendent instrument of the Robab, with the great Sarod Maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan in India.

He will be performing in the Fes Festival with Jordi Savall on Jun 24th at Bab al Makina.


12% increase in tourist arrivals in Morocco at the end of April

A total of 3.4 million tourists visited Morocco between January and April 2018, up 12% over the same period a year earlier, according to the Tourism Observatory.

The number of foreign tourists (TES) increased by 19%, while the arrivals of Moroccans living abroad (MRE) increased by 1%, says the Tourism Observatory which has just published its statistics on Moroccan tourism for the month of April 2018.

This increase affected the main issuing markets, particularly Italy (18%), Germany (+ 14%), France (11%), the United Kingdom and Holland (10% each), notes the Observatory. .

Regarding the total nights registered in classified tourist accommodation establishments, they increased by 10% during the first 4 months of 2018 (+ 13% for non-resident tourists and + 4% for residents).

The two tourist hubs Marrakesh and Agadir alone generated 61% of total overnight stays at the end of April, the Observatory said, noting that these two cities saw an increase of 12% and 8%, respectively.

Fez Visitors Up 25%
Other destinations also performed well, especially the cities of Fez, Tangier and Rabat with respective increases of 25%, 12% and 13%.

In addition, revenues generated by tourism activity by non-residents in Morocco amounted to 21.1 billion dirhams (MMDH) at the end of April, compared to 17.9 billion dirhams a year earlier, an increase of 18%.

During the month of April, the number of tourist arrivals at the border posts has increased by 4% compared to the same month of 2017 (8% for the TES and -2% for the MRE), adds the Observatory .

Oujda-Saïdia: 22% increase in tourist nights at the end of April

Oujda - The number of tourist nights recorded at the end of April 2018 in tourist accommodation establishments in the cities of Oujda and Saïdia amounted to 85,601, compared to 70,075 nights booked during the same period of 2017, that is an increase of 22 pc.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Review of Through The Peacock Gate - Lauren Crabbe

Review by photojournalist Lauren Crabbe

Deliberating an opening for my review of Sandy McCutcheon’s Through the Peacock Gate, I opened the book at random and re-read whatever passage first caught my eye. It tied in quite nicely with a theory I’ve been developing about Fez, where the book is set: that its real truth lies in what defies superficial explanation; in negative space; in dichotomies. The passage, beginning modestly with, “Let me describe the indescribable”, unravels a series of concepts that not only challenge one another, but nearly cancel each other out. Incomprehensible magic that can’t be substantiated through folklore; thoughts constructing a realm where thought is unknown; a character completely devoured by space that transcends measurement, and yet becomes one with it. The kind of inversions that crack fragile Western minds with their immunity to paradox, that only someone who’s spent extended time in spiritual regions of the world can navigate.

McCutcheon has penned a literary equivalent of Schrödinger’s cat, and done so with alternating wry efficiency and achingly beautiful prose that’s engaging to read as it is mind-bending to comprehend. As I’m lucky enough to be in Fez at the time of reading, it was all I could do not to take off down the Medina in the middle of the night in search of the supernatural – threat of possession by djinns be damned.

The onset of mystery is slow, veiled by a deceptively simple premise: the main character, Richard (an alias), returns to Fez to find his house (or dar) robbed and gutted. After a brief detour into the vaults of his former life, he tentatively enlists the help of a local writer, Yazami, to find the men to repair it. From there, corners of a grander plot are meticulously doled out like sips of nus-nus left to cool down. Sometimes, they take the ghostly form of A’isha, a djinniya with a curious grudge who haunts Richard’s dar. Others appear as innocently as butterflies flapping their wings (Richard is a lepidopterist) before sudden twists blow through and flatten your sense of shrewdness. All orchestrate his gradual descent into madness – an intimidating portrayal, masterfully executed.

Embroidered through the suspense are tactful, sincere cultural observations that could only be garnered by someone who’s spent a decade weaving through Morocco’s ornate cultural fabric, as McCutcheon has. He opens a window into the local mindset that dispels any illusion we hold that we might know a thing or two they don’t. Spice shop owners quoting James Joyce and Yazami’s metaphysical mic-drops are contrasted with religious rubbernecking and vapid squabbles of expats and tourists; a prudent reminder we can strive to understand these foreign realms but never presume to know. Nothing is as it seems – a notion that will shock, delight, and humble you throughout the book as tools from McCutcheon’s thriller kit come into play.

Through Richard’s attempts to bridge his own shortcomings, we circle back again and again to this prominent theme of dichotomy. “My endeavours to cross this divide proved futile – each fragment of understanding opening up even bigger differences in our perception”. Yet this is what McCutcheon attempts, and succeeds, to do. Through the Peacock Gate deftly illustrates the process of the ordinary becoming extraordinary, and vice versa. Gently appreciating the subtle magic of the unknown, while revering the masochistic divine. It feeds you intimacy from a distance, and will leave you hungry like a djinniya for blood.

Lauren Crabbe:


A Sufi Moment in Fez

A Unique Spiritual Afternoon of Zikr ( Sufi Meditation ) and Sufi Songs with Shaykh Abd al- Hafidh Wentzel ( Germany ) and  Ustadh Shaykh Shihabuddin Farfour ( Syria ) Friday 22 June 2018 6pm
13, Akbat Sbaa، Fes 30100


Morocco Against Portugal @ World Cup

Morocco failed in their match against Portugal despite having a large number of Moroccan supporters in the crowd

Unfortunately Ronaldo struck quickly with a superb header

Morocco played an amazing game with a majority of possession, but not having a top striker to put the ball  in the net resulted in a number of missed shots at goal. Portugal won by the single goal, but played in a lack lustre manner.

Morocco are now out of the World Cup
Ronaldo was not at his best, but the only man to score


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Sal Sidner - Art Exhibition Opens Saturday

ART Exhibition - "The Dancing Brush " - Recent works by S a l  S i d n e r

O p e n i n g : Sunday, June 22, 6:30 PM ALIF Riad, 6 Derb Drissi, Bath
Continues daily 4-6 PM through June 30

Sal Sidner is an artist who paints what she sees en pleine aire when she travels. In the studio her mixed media paintings and installations reflect her love of music, textiles and collage, and address human culture, feminist issues and ecological concerns. Born in England, she attended Loughborough and West of England Colleges of art, before moving to India, and eventually the USA. Her Master’s studies were at New York University, Ca' Foscari in Venice Italy, and Academia de Bellas Artes, Florence. She holds Educational Specialist and Master’s degrees from the University of Florida, and currently teaches art. She has been awarded artist’s residencies in Europe, India and the USA, and exhibits at international fairs.

C o n t a c t :
GSM: 0641271605 - 0659661502
ALIF Riad, 6 Derb Drissi, Batha


Today's Big Question About Major Festivals

The View From Fez would like to hear from our readers on the subject of festival scheduling in Morocco

Why is it that the Essaouira Gnaoua Festival is on at the same time as the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music and Mawazine from 22-30 June? Many of our readers say they are torn between the three.

Many at the Gnaoua Festival would like to go on to Fez

Would it not be sensible to have one Festival follow the other, with maybe a one or two day break in between? This would enable patrons to travel between Fez, Rabat and Essaouira - and spend more time in Morocco.

Many at the Fes Festival would like to go on to Essaouira

The Gnaoua Festival starts on June 21st, the Fes Festival on June 22nd and Mawazine on June 22nd making it impossible to attend them all. Better scheduling would make good economic sense and would also allow for some artists to perform at more than one festival. It is worth thinking about