Friday, October 24, 2014

Moroccan Sufi Brotherhood To Star in Australia

In Australia on Saturday it was announced that the Fez Hamadcha Sufi Brotherhood have been booked for two major festivals in Australia. It will be the first time that a Moroccan Sufi Brotherhood will have performed in the antipodes
The Fez Hamadcha - Australia bound

The Fez Hamadcha will perform a number of ceremonies at the Woodford Festival in Queensland between December 27th and January the 1st and then journey to Sydney where they are one of the highlights of the prestigious Sydney Festival in January.

The Woodford Festival runs for seven days and is attended by up to 130,000 visitors.

Woodford Festival - the Hamadcha can expect huge audiences

Festival Director, Bill Hauritz, told The View from Fez that he was excited by the prospect. "To have a genuine traditional Sufi Brotherhood appear at our Festival is a great honour and something we have been looking forward to for some years." Director Hauritz visited the Fez Medina earlier this year to begin the negotiations for the visit. There has also been support for the visit from the Moroccan Ambassador in Australia and The View from Fez in Morocco.

Abderrahim Amrani Marrakchi, the leader of the Brotherhood (pictured above), will be joined in Australia by six members of the Brotherhood that, despite its name, also includes two women; the singer Faith Barker and specialist Hadra (trance) dancer, Rachida El Jokh.

Another Hamadcha member, Frédéric Calmès, explained that for some in the Brotherhood the trip would also be their first experience of air travel. "However, the most important thing is that it is yet another chance to share a living tradition that dates back to the seventeenth century".

Along with the Gnawa and the Aïssawa, the Hamadcha are one of the three most important Sufi brotherhoods in Morocco. The Hamadcha brotherhood was founded by Saint Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch in the seventeenth century, and has become famous through the originality of its repertoire, its spellbinding dances, and the trance-therapy skills of its members.

The Hamadcha’s rhythmic and melodic modes are extremely complex, and like their musical instruments, are found only within the brotherhood. A large part of the repertoire of the Gnawa and the Aïssawa is borrowed from the Hamadcha and is named “El Hamdouchiyya”. This amazing music is played during a ritual that dates back several centuries and which mixes praise to the founding Saint and leads into trance dancing.

The Hamadcha ritual, like that of the Gnawa, has a therapeutic function. The Hamadcha have for a long time been regarded as expert therapists and Moroccans looked to them for help because of their knowledge of “medicine of the mind”.

The Hamadcha rehearse in Fez

The Hamadcha of Fez, led by the master Abderrahim Amrani Marrakchi, distinguish themselves by their will to preserve the brotherhood from a possible disappearance. Their thorough knowledge of the repertoire and their remarkable musical skills make them the most renowned and valued Hamadcha of Morocco. They have performed on many occasions, for recordings and at festivals of traditional music.

Speaking to The View from Fez Abderrahim Amrani Marrakchi said that the appearances in Australia are a wonderful opportunity to share the Hamadcha traditions "It is also an exciting chance for our members to experience a fascinating country that most of us have only dreamed of visiting."

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