Monday, January 10, 2011

Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 2011

The 17th World Sacred Music Festival will take place in Fez from 3-11 June this year. The theme is Wisdoms of the World.

While we can't bring the programme yet, we can tell you that the organisers, the Spirit of Fes Foundation, invite you "on a quest to explore beauty and your senses through diverse wisdoms, philosophies, arts and cultures of the world from Ethiopia to Afghanistan, from North India to Morocco, from Brazil to Senegal, from Spain, France and Italy to the United States".

"The quest for knowledge and the secret of love is expressed by the opening opera Majnoun and Layla, then carried on through the resonance of Samaa of Morocco, the percussions of Shanghai, the drums of Japan, the lyric voices of Paris or London operas and by the ecstatic reverberations of Qawwali".

The story of Majnoun and Layla can be found all over the Arab world, into India, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Persia. The story is one of unconsummated, or virgin, love, not dissimilar to the much later Romeo and Juliet. The story, dating from the 7th century, concerns the Bedouin poet Qays ibn al-Mulawwah from Najd in the northern Arabian Peninsula. There are various versions of the story, in which Qays falls in love with Layla but is prevented from marrying her by her father, and goes mad with grief (majnoun meaning madman in Arabic).

In 12th century Persia, the poet Nezami Ganjavi embellished the story, which became very popular. The Festival banner is a Persian depiction of Qays in the wilderness.

I pass by these walls, the walls of Layla
And I kiss this wall and that wall
It’s not Love of the houses that has taken my heart
But of the One who dwells in those houses

poem attributed to Qays ibn al-Mulawwah

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