For nine magical nights from June 7 to 15, visitors from around the world will gather in Fes, Morocco’s ancient spiritual, cultural and intellectual capital, for a feast of music presented in stunning historic venues. The music also comes from around the world including some delights from India including a stunning fusion of Indian ragas with Western classical music
|Kathak dancers Anuj Mishra and Niha Singh performing at the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music last June. |
Photo by Suzanna Clarke
Stars like Patti Smith and Paco da Lucia will be playing beneath the night sky at the 3,500-seat Bab Makina main stage – a parade ground attached to the Royal Palace, surrounded by castellated walls.
One of the most loved music festivals in the world, the festival has attracted a star-studded line-up for its 19th edition. The 2013 Fes Festival of World Sacred Music with the theme Reflections of Andalusia will open with a spectacular dance, poetry and musical extravaganza directed by the flamenco dance maestro Andres Marin. More than 30 Arab-Andalusian, Sufi, Amazigh and Spanish flamenco artists will take part.
Although the focus this year is on Andalusian music, India is once again part of the magical mix.
In fact, the Fes Festival has a long tradition of presenting Indian artists.
Back in 2007, Mumbai-based Carnatic vocalist Vasumathi Badrinathan, performing at the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music said, “It is a matter of great honour and pride to represent India in that part of the globe.” It can equally be said that the Indian presence at the Fes Festival is treasured by those lucky enough to experience it.
Vasumathi is just one in the list that includes the late Ustad Bismillah Khan (1997), Begum Parveen Sultana, Ustad Dilshad Khan (1998), Aruna Sairam (2000), Afroz Bano (2001), Anurekha Ghosh (2005), Pandit Ravi Shankar, Anoushka Shankar (2005) and Sudha Raghunathan (2006) Vasumathi Badrinathan (2007).
When, in December 2012, Ravi Shankar died, his passing was marked by Festival Director Faouzi Skali, who recalled the last time he visited the Fes Festival. “It was for the 11th edition of the World Sacred Music Festival, in 2005, where he gave, with his daughter Anoushka, a concert with incredible power; power that transcended beyond space and time.”
One of last year’s highlights was the appearance of Anuj Mishra and Niha Singh, both brilliant exponents of the Lucknow School of Kathak Dance. Their concert was one of the stand-out performances of the festival.
|Mukhtiyar Ali at the beautiful Batha Museum venue|
Mukhtiyar Ali was another performer in 2012. An enthusiastic proponent of Indian music, he saw the Festival as a valuable way of keeping age-old traditions alive. “The Mirasi lineage which has preserved the heritage of Sufiana Qalam — through all these generations — witnessing war, droughts, religious backlash and economic penury is today falling apart in the consumer-driven world we have created. Much of the folk traditions and music forms are tottering today and are lost in lifestyles offering instant gratification as comfort, where everything needs to be compressed into seconds and rarely is there time to experience the lifetime that traditional music offers.”
Tariq Binshakoor lives in England but is a Fes Festival regular. He is particularly attracted to the Indian music presented. “I have an Indian heritage so this type of music is my thing,” he said. “I understood much of it and I think music is best enjoyed when understood, it takes the experience to a different level altogether.”
“Music is the common language of humanity, it speaks to all of us,” Festival Director Skali
In 2013 the magical Indian presence will continue. As Zeyba Rahman, Asia and North American Director for the Festival says, “We anticipate that the two performances by Pandit Shyam Sundar Goswami, the vocalist who represents the Kirana Gharana of North Indian classical Khayal, will be greatly appreciated in his June 10th solo performance and when he collaborates with France’s XVIII Le Baroque Nomade Ensemble under the direction of Jean-Christophe Frisch in a performance of western classical music and majestic Indian night ragas. In addition, the Festival audience will have a unique opportunity to learn Indian classical dance mudras or hand gestures when they join the workshop with classical Indian Bharatanatyam dancer Manochhaya.”
Pandit Shyam Sundar Goswami originates from Bengal and trained in the Kirana Gharana vocal tradition of north Indian classical music. His rendition of the Kirana Khyal tradition is marked with great subtlety. He will be performing Monday, June 10th at Dar Adiyel at 19:30.
Another much anticipated concert on June 10 is Reflections of an Indian Night. At the beautiful Dar Mokri venue, Jean-Christophe Frisch, flutist and artistic director of the XVIII-21 Le Baroque Nomade ensemble, with singer Cyrille Gerstenhaber, will join with Pandit Shyam Sundar Goswami, the master of the khyal vocal tradition, to conjure up 18th century Chandernagar with both western music and Indian nocturnal ragas. The music is described as being “somewhere between reflections and dreams”, with compositions that include Couperin, Marin Marais, Lully and Michel Lambert.
The Moultaqa programs on June 12 will bring together master artists and audience enthusiasts in intimate setting for workshops and discussions, as an initiation into the choreographic and musical arts through the language of meditation, with approaches that are both ancient and contemporary. Bharatanatyam dancer Manochhaya will lead a session on Indian dance and the mudras, or hand gestures.
The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music was founded in1994 by Skali. His aim, following the First Gulf War and in harmony with Andalusian ideals, was to create a focal point for peaceful collaboration between people of all races and religions, rooted in spiritual and humanitarian values. “Music is the common language of humanity,” he says “it speaks to all of us.”
The 2013 Fes Festival has been chosen as one of the top 25 international music festivals by the world music magazine Songlines.
Other events of note:
Wednesday, June 12 at Dar Mokri ,14h00 - 18h00: Moultaqa
Moultaqa Bharatanatyam dancer Manochhaya will lead a session on Indian dance and the mudras, or hand gestures.
Wednesday, June 12 at Dar Adiyel - 19h30 / 22h00- Sacred songs from the Kingdom of Bhutan
With Jigme Drukpa, Pema Samdrup and Namkha Lhamo presented in collaboration with the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Bhutan. Bhutan’s sung tradition is presented for the first time in Fes. It includes Zhungdra, the Bhutanese classical tradition, Boedra, the Tibetan tradition, and Gurma, traditional devotional chant dedicated to Milarepa, the great Tibetan mystic and poet (1040-1123) and to his disciple Rechungpa.
Saturday, June 8 at Musée Batha 16h00 - Nomadic Voices of the Steppes and the Mountains - Sardinia, Mongolia. Cuncordu E Tenore de Orosei Ensemble with Mongolian vocalists Ts. Tsogtgerel and N. Ganzorig of Mongolia. Within the confines of the sacred and the secular, somewhere between liturgy and folk celebrations, these voices resonate between the heights of the Sardinian mountains and the Mongolian Steppes. It is here that the beauty of a pastoral culture is still to be found. Far, far away, where the Altaï mountains meet the immense Gobi desert, Khöömii throat singing can be heard. This song is a musical metaphor for the hilltops and the valleys, the vastness of the Steppes, the herds and the tumult of nature.
More details Festival Website
Text: Sandy McCutcheon
Photographs: Suzanna Clarke