Monday, June 06, 2011

Zeyba Rahman's message of peace

Zeyba Rahman (pictured below) is the Director of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music for North America and Asia. She was born in India, but is now based in New York, where she recently curated the Morocco-focused World Nomads Festival (see our story here).

Zeyba explains that the nine-day Fes Festival of World Sacred Music "has a peace making mission and was founded after the first Gulf War in 1994 when Faouzi Skali, the founder, felt that the world was polarising."

Since then the festival has brought the finest multi-faith musicians and global audiences to Fez, a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site. This year's festival, with the theme of Wisdoms of the World, has brought among others classical Dhrupad singers Gundecha Brothers from India and Farid Ayyaz Qawwals from Pakistan.

Considered one of the world's most important festivals, the Fes Festival presents the highest calibre musicians representing their musical tradition from all over the world, said Rahman.

Senegal's great vocalist Youssou N'Dour, Ben Harper from the US, Francoise Atlan the Algerian Jewish vocalist are among those showcased alongside many great, diverse, Moroccan sacred musicians.

"My role is to bring the festival and its programmes to the attention of the world in a variety of ways to spread its message of peace, the importance of cooperation and tolerance so that peoples and cultures thrive together regardless of religion or race," she said.

Named as one of seven heroes in the world for the Dialogue Amongst Civilizations by the United Nations, the festival has also been honoured with the Osseimi Prize for Tolerance, previously won by South African freedom leader Nelson Mandela.

All the concerts are held in stunning, historic settings inside the ancient walled city, Rahman said. Its current affairs Fes Forum, with the permanent theme of "Giving a Soul to Globalization" holds vigorous focused discussions on the most critical topical issues.

"Heads of state, grassroots activists, spiritual leaders, artists and intellectuals all come together here to explore solutions," she said.

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