Friday, June 25, 2010

Thirteenth Gnaoua Music Festival opens in Essaouira

The 13th Gnaoua Music Festival, held under the high patronage of HM King Mohammed VI, opened on Thursday in the Atlantic city of Essaouira. The festival runs until June 27.

The festival features performances by famous Gnaoua masters, known as Maalems, including Mohamed Kouyou and Saïd Kouyou, in addition to renowned world musicians such as Algerian Amazigh Kateb and Pakistani Faiz Ali Faiz.

Music lovers will also enjoy concerts by Georgian Ballet dancers and Armenian Navy Band.

Fifty-eight concerts and five conferences on Gnaoua music are scheduled during the festival, which brings together 300 artists.

The festival will first honour the gnaoua musicians with a new stage, which is dedicated to them at Bab Doukkala, allowing the ardent supporters of the Gnaoua rhythms to meet with the stars, from Hamid El Kasri to Abdelkébir Merchane, for 100 % Gnaoua concerts, as well as the traditional lilas in the exceptional Gnaoua Zaouia every evening at midnight for the purists.

World and jazz musicians will perform every evening on the stage of Bab Sebaa, offering a combination of the best current sounds: from the unexpected Trio Joubran, featuring three oud-playing brothers, to the English genius of bluesman Justin Adams, as well as the incredible Toumani Diabaté and the Korean traditional percussions of the Salmunori Group.

The Moulay Hassan stage will receive today’s most famous groups of very diverse styles, from the bubbling jazz of Eric Legnini to KyMani Marley’s reggae as well as the well-known jazzman Wayne Shorter and his quartet. Crowning this exceptional programme off: a concert by the National Orchestra of Barbès, a real ‘musical pot’, at the closing of the festival on Sunday. Moulay Hassan will also be the meeting place of Gnaoua and World music for fusion concerts, where new sounds arise from the meeting of the guembri and castanets with the finest instruments from all over the world: percussion, trumpet, saxophone, kora, piano …

On the smaller stages in the medina, the new generation of maâlems, embodied by Saïd Boulhimas who was sensational last year during the concert of the" Band of Gnaoua ", will accompany the established maâlems such as Allal Soudani, Saïd El Bourqui and Abdeslam Belghiti, to offer to the festival-goers the best Gnaoua music during both the day and evening concerts. Still in the same spirit of open dialogue established by the Festival, the Al Khayma place and the Marché des Grains will also be open to other traditional Moroccan musical genres - Ganga, Haddarates and the superb Hamadcha.

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