Friday, June 07, 2013

The View From Fez Team Expands for the Fes Festival

The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 2013 opens today. To keep you up to date with what is going on during the action packed eight days to come, The View From Fez team has increased to a team of five, plus additional reporting by three other writers.

From left: Sandy McCutcheon, Natasha Christov, Suzanna Clarke, Stephanie Clifford-Smith and Vanessa Bonnin

Regular editors, writers and photographers, Sandy McCutcheon and Suzanna Clarke, have been joined by journalist Stephanie Clifford-Smith, writer and reviewer Natasha Christov, and photojournalist Vanessa Bonnin. Also adding their voices to the mix will be blogger Gabe Monson; academic Justin McGuinness and other guest contributors.

We will be bringing you daily coverage of each concert and associated festival events, including information about the performers, the flavour of the music, descriptions of the atmosphere at the venues and audience opinions. Each day we'll publish a program to make sure you catch the best of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 2013. 

Stephanie Clifford-Smith

Journalist Stephanie Clifford-Smith has flown in from Australia to Morocco to lend her extensive experience to The View From Fez during the festival. She has worked for prestigious newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age for more than 25 years; has a regular food column as well as writing travel articles and features, and has written two non-fiction books. 

Born in Sydney, Stephanie says that at school she was often accused of "writing like a journalist". After completing a degree in Art History at the University of Sydney, she spent two years in London. On returning to Sydney and having her first child, she decided to try her hand at journalism professionally and was "shocked" to have the first article she submitted published in the Sydney Morning Herald's Style section. 

Fifteen years of covering medical matters followed, before Stephanie moved on primarily to food and travel writing. As well as the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, her stories have been published in The Australian, The Sun Herald and Qantas Magazine

"I'm very excited to be in Morocco," Stephanie says. "It's been on my list of 'must-go' places for some time. And it's great having a focus, rather than just travelling around. The festival program looks very diverse. There is all sorts of music I will never have heard before."

Vanessa Bonnin

During the year, Vanessa Bonnin is better known in Fez as the charming host at Dar Roumana, where she and her husband Vincent Bonnin run a guesthouse and one of the city's best restaurants. However, Vanessa has other skills. She has a degree in journalism and this is the second year she has written for The View From Fez during the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music

Born in Perth, Australia, Vanessa moved to England with her family when she was 15. Leaving to go travelling at 19, she visited Egypt and then backpacked around Australia. She returned to the UK two years later and met her husband Vincent while working at a hotel in Tunbridge Wells, where he was a chef. The couple emigrated to Australia, and Vanessa completed a degree in journalism and photography at Perth's Curtin University. After she graduated, the couple moved to Melbourne where Vanessa worked on the newspaper The Leader for three and a half years. 

"Then Vincent and I then worked on yachts to save some money to buy property," she says. "One day I was reading the newspaper and saw an article about property in Morocco. So we came to Fez and found the house we wanted on the second day." 

Vanessa's first experience of the Fes Festival was four years ago. "It opens a window onto the world of music you would never otherwise experience," she says. "And working with The View From Fez, I get to research the musicians in greater depth." 

Also joining the team is Natasha Christov is a new resident of Fez and has been a blogger and music reviewer. Born in Melbourne, Australia, she studied Media and Communications at the University of Melbourne. While at University, she wrote music reviews for the website In the Mix and for a radio station, which gave her an insight into the local contemporary music scene.

After graduating, Natasha worked in marketing, managing a blog, Facebook page and external communication for a luxury retail store. During her annual leave she travelled to Morocco in 2010. She liked Fez so much she has returned every year since, and decided to relocatepermanently last month to manage a traditional Moroccan guesthouse.

Natasha says that writing about the Fes Festival will give her the opportunity to combine her love of Fez, music and journalism.

"Music is almost like breathing," she says. "You may not be able to speak someone's language, but if you hear the same song, it's an immediate communication."

The View from Fez is an official Media Partner of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music
Festival information, map, restaurants - Click here

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