When the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music was first launched in 1994, it aimed to have music from the three Abrahamic faiths: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. While the Festival has since expanded to include music from virtually every other belief system, this year's event will have two afternoons devoted to Jewish and Palestinian music.
16h00 SUNDAY 5 JUNE at the Batha Museum
The Hevrat David Hamelech Chorale from Strasbourg in France will perform Jewish liturgical songs of the Bakachot vigils, and Piyoutim poetry.
‘Our masters tell us that King Ezechias was not the Messiah because he didn’t sing …’
The Jews of North Africa, and particularly of Morocco, are inheritors along with the Arabs of an immense musical heritage, usually known as Andalous music. The Jews have held on to their nostalgia for this Spanish golden age, and such nostalgia is still to be found in their daily religious music.
Events such as Brith-Milas, Bar Mitzvahs, weddings, public or family parties all feature Pyoutim (poems) sung by one or more Paytanim who are singers, poets and composers all rolled into one.
In an atmosphere of joy, détente and accomplishment, the Jews of the mellah went to the synagogue to listen until dawn to the pure Andalous style of the poems of Rabbi Jehouda Halèvy, Ibn Gabirol, Rabbi David Hassin and many other poets, both well-known and obscure.
The Hevrat David Hamelech Chorale of Strasbourg continues this repertoire that is fundamental to the history of the music of the Maghreb.
16h00 MONDAY 6 JUNE at the Batha Museum
Nawah Songs from the Jewish Sephardic and Palestinian traditions
Françoise Atlan, vocals
Moneim Adwan, vocals and oud
Bijan Chemirani, zarb and daf
At the crossroads of the three monotheistic traditions of medieval Spain and of a musical tradition evoking exile, a lost homeland and sublime love, Françoise Atlan and Moneim Adwan (pictured above) cement an encounter between the music of the Maghreb and the Middle East.
Entering into resonance here are compositions, skilful improvisations, traditional and popular songs, alternating between liturgical texts and poetic verse, tarab and duende, the two emotions associated with Andalusia. The nostalgia of Sephardic song and the Jewish-Spanish romances of Françoise Atlan join with the heartbreak of a Gaza childhood – that of singer and oud-player Moneim Adwan.
Adwan performed at the Fes Festival in 2004. His songs are inspired by the traditional musical heritage of the Al-Châm region (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine) and by the classical Arab repertory. His compositions are an attempt to keep the tradition alive in a country which wavers between modernism and ancestral traditions.
With a background in two cultures and blessed with great vocal expression, original technique and style, Françoise Atlan has Judeo-Berber roots that have naturally led her to her passion for the Mediterranean vocal heritage, particularly the Judeo-Spanish and Judeo-Arab traditions, during her career as a lyrical singer.
Alongside her career in music and artistic projects which takes her all over the world, Atlan is also Artistic Director of the Festival de la Musique Andalousie Atlantique in Essaouira and has often performed at the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music.