Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Labyrinths – Vincent Moon,Priscilla Telmon & Hamadcha - Review

Asking a traditional Sufi Brotherhood to improvise to cinematic images is a difficult undertaking. But tonight at the Sidi Mohamed Ben Youssef Cultural Complex, that is exactly what they attempted.

The performance "Labyrinths' was a cinematographic and musical creation produced by Vincent Moon and Priscilla Telmon; with the Hamadcha Sufi Brotherhood of Fes directed by Abderrahim Amrani Marrakchi. Partly it was an homage to Fez, but mostly to the Hamadcha themselves.

Sound engineer, Erik Loots,, from Antwerp, is head of sound, which involves the engineering, and unofficially, production. This is his twentieth successive year in Fes, so he knows a thing or two. So when he says that what the Hamadcha are attempting to do tonight is "impossible", one has to listen.

A pensive Abderrahim prior to the performance

Yet, despite that prediction, the Hamadcha Tariqa (brotherhood) pulled off the impossible. In fact, they went further. The highlight of the night was it was the Hamadcha live who upstaged the film. The large audience appeared entranced from the beginning and, as the evening went on, were given a night to remember.

Hamadcha moqaddem (leader), Abderrahim Amrani Marrakchi and musical director Frédéric Calmès spent the hours prior to the concert rehearsing and the time and effort paid off.

Cinematographer Priscilla Telmon has a last minute chat with musical director Frédéric Calmès

While Vincent Moon and Priscilla Telmon's Labyrinths set out to be a musical and poetic excursion into the streets of the Fes Medina,  it became a vehicle for the Hamadcha. What would have been simply another video journey through the streets was saved by the presence of  Abderrahim and the tariqa. Through them we gained entry to unfamiliar places and watched a hadra being performed. The film showed us the gritty underside of the Medina and the Hamadcha's place in it.

Musical director Frédéric Calmès

Having the Hamadcha live was a risky but, (as it turned out), brilliant idea. With musical direction from Frédéric Calmès and the charismatic Abderrahim, what could have been a travelogue, came to life with the assistance of the 17 man and one woman troupe. Calmès playing of the guembri was another highlight.

In true Hamadcha tradition they entered , chanting, from the street
Frédéric and Adderrahim, silhouetted against the Medina

In typical Hamadcha style, they raised the tempo and delivered us, standing, dancing, into the arms of Lalla Aisha. A superb night.

O 'Aisha! Rise and place yourself
in the service of Allah and the Prophet.

O Sire! Greetings to the Prophet.
Welcome O Lalla 'Aisha.

The altar is prepared.
O Lalla 'Aisha! O Gnawiyya!

Welcome, O Daughter of the river.
Allah! Allah! Lalla 'Aisha!

She has come! She has come!
She has come! Lalla 'Aisha!

Hahiya jat! Hahiya jat! Hahiya jat! Lalla 'Aisha

Review and photographs: Sandy McCutcheon

Note - More Hamadcha! 23h00 – Dar Tazi Sufi Nights (free of charge) - The Hamadcha Brotherhood: Abderrahim Amrani Marrakchi, with the participation of the Chadiliya brotherhood (song)


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