Monday, April 04, 2016

Fes Festival Preview #4 - Nights in the Medina 1

Over the years Nights in the Medina has become a much loved tradition at the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. During these nights visitors are invited deep into the Medina to experience concerts in some spectacular venues.  In 2015 the Nights in the Medina attracted 13,000 visitors
Rageshri Das will perform at Dar Adiyel

This year the concerts will take place at Dar Adiyel, the Prefecture Hall (opposite the Batha Museum) and the Sidi Mohammed Ben Youssef Cultural Complex.

The first Night in the Medina is a continuation of the Festival's Homage to India. It will be an  evening of ragas from a group of gifted artists from Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Jodhpur and Jaipur, as well as from cities of the Indian diaspora: London, Manchester and Toronto. Most of these young masters of Hindu and Carnatic music are performing for the first time in Morocco and for some, it is their first performance outside the sub-continent.

DAR ADIYEL 18h00 and 20h30 - Rageshri Das – Khyal Song – Kolkata

From the Gharana tradition of Varanasi, Rageshri Das is the first performer this evening. Her proud beauty recalls portraits of acclaimed begums – those emancipated women who were rather irreverent. As soon as Das begins singing, we are immediately entranced: her light tone is almost frivolous, then plunges suddenly into depths not usually found in women of only thirty. The work underlying this talent is tangible. Her voice breaks in a language that reveals the emotion of the raga. She instils feeling into it in successive waves, and gathers us up with her wonderful improvisation.

This music is within her. Her father, Purnendu Das, trained with Pandit Mahadev Prasad Mishra, a fine exponent of khyal and thumri song with a great knowledge of the bandishes (composed melody, the literary element of the raga) and a contemporary of the glorious Siddeshwar Devi and Rasoolan Bai, who looked very much like Rageshri.

Rageshri learned this type of Varanasi Gharana from the age of 8, joining Pandit Mohan Lal Mishra and his son Sri Deepak Mishra, with whom she received rigorous talim (training). Twenty-two years later she is shaped by Guru-Shishya Parampara, a traditional mentoring system of learning that ensures the survival of the art.

PREFECTURE HALL  – 19h00 - Shashank Subramaniam and Rakesh Chaurasia, masters of the Bansuri flute – Chennai and Mumbai

Shashank Subramaniam and Rakesh Chaurasia

This jugalbandi, as a duo of soloists from the Indian tradition is called, promises to be full of challenges, respect and goodwill.

Coming from the tradition of TR Mahalingam and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, these thirty-year-olds are already masters and hold the foundation of music with a cosmic charm. The philosophers of ancient India say how excellently the bamboo flute expresses the union between nature and the divine.

Shashank gave his first concert in Adelaide at the age of just 11. Today, looking like a student absorbed in another world, with his bamboo flute under one arm and his laptop under the other, this prodigy is already acknowledged as one of the masters of Carnatic music.

Rakesh Chaurasia is the nephew of the legendary Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and his most accomplished pupil. He has sworn allegiance: to follow his heritage and to seek new paths. If an indisputable quality has been bequeathed to him, it is the balance between power and serenity. His experienced technique along with training in swar and tala (rhythms) can lift the audience to new heights of consciousness. As an explorer  Rakesh has recently been involved in experimental work, without losing sight of the exacting demands of classical music.

PREFECTURE HALL – 20h30 - Ustad Irshad Khan – Sitar and surbahar – Toronto

A globetrotter with a staggeringly long discography, Irshad Khan’s powerful dexterity is impressive. He comes from an awe-inspiring line: son and pupil of Ustad Imrat Khan, himself the younger brother of the great Ustad Vilayat Khan of the Imdadkhani Gharana (north Indian school of sitar and surbahar music) which played for the Mughal courts for over 400 years. Irshad plays with a superb mastery and prowess of great endurance. He imbues his performances with enormous energy. His taan (the singing of very rapid melodic passages) flirt with the speed of light, then suddenly become transcendently sweet.

SIDI MOHAMED BEN YOUSSEF CULTURAL COMPLEX – 22h30 - The King of Ghosts – premiere – India & Morocco

Cinema/Concert : original score composed by Soumik Datta, Johannes Berauer and Cormac Byrne for the film Goopy Gayen Bagha Bayen by Satyajit Ray (1969), with Soumik Datta, voice, sarod.  Cormac Byrne, bodhrán (Celtic drum) and percussion and a classical Moroccan orchestra directed by Aziz el Achhab.

The King of Ghosts is an epic poem as well as an experimental jewel. This creation invites young and old, music lovers and dreamers, film lovers and the curious to indulge themselves in a feast of music and images.

Filmmaker Satyajit Ray (1921-92) made The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha, inspired by a tale written by his grandfather. This is a story of initiation led by a visionary spirit. Putting it into film resulted in some psychedelic scenes with special effects that were revolutionary at the time.

In this vintage black and white film, music is the true protagonist. Singer Goopy and percussionist Bagha have something in common: both have been excommunicated by their village because of their mediocre talent. Roaming in the forest, the King of Ghosts grants them three wishes. Thus armed with the power to look after themselves at all times, the ability to move instantly to wherever they wish to be and a spectacular musical ability, our two heroes set off on a fantastic journey that ends at the king’s court. Victorious in an improbable musical tournament, they manage to prevent the outbreak of war between two brothers, fighting off the forces of evil, re-establishing harmony between kingdoms and discovering love! Isn’t that the miracle of music?

The film is little known in this part of the world. Soumik Datta, prodigy of the sarod lute, is half Bengali and half British and decided to work with the film as he saw in it a wonderful field to explore.
‘All little Bengalis grow up with Goopy and Bagha. And once we’re grown up, we see its depths … Released some decades after the independence of India, the cultural revolution is at its heart: artistic creation gives us the power and energy to fight for just causes.’
Along with composer Johannes Berauer and drummer Cormac Byrne, Soumik Datta weaves sublime melodies that lie somewhere between folk and classic, orchestral textures and a contagious beat that engenders an astonishingly ethereal experience. The solo instrument takes on the voice of Goopy who, as if on a magic carpet, transports us to a mythical world.

Thanks to Helen Ranger for translations from the French

Nights in The Medina 1
 May 9

Book your ticket here

The View From Fez is a Fez Festival official Media Partner

See our Fes Festival previews:
Opening Night Preview
Homage to India Preview
Divas of the World Preview
Nights in the Medina 1 Preview
Nights in the Medina 2 Preview
Nights in the Medina 3 Preview
Istanbul to Fez Preview
Tribute to Oum Keltoum Preview
Samira Saïd Preview
Forum Sessions Preview
Sufi Nights & Boujloud Concerts

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