Thursday, June 26, 2008

11th Gnaoua World Music Festival in Essaouira

Half a million visitors are expected to attend the 11th Gnaoua world Music Festival, which kicked off on Thursday. Each year it is bigger and better and the reason for that according to festival director, Neila Tazi?

How to describe the energy and motivation we find each year to put on the Essaouira Gnawa and World Music Festival? From all over the world come musicians and the public, eager to join in this unique celebration.

We are driven by our passion for music and genuine encounters, our desire to preserve some innocence and dreams in a harsh world. For four days we create a world with values we believe in: simplicity and the basic things in life.

Artists have a gift for reminding us that being kind, taking the time to listen to others and loving one another are at the very heart of our lives. Songs urging us to stop creating discord and helping those in need are sending us messages of wisdom and peace.

The Gnaoua Festival plans to surprise its faithful and cosmopolitan audience this year. Crossing the symbolic course of 10 years and 500 000 festival-goers, the festival is offering a rich programme, reaffirming its incentive to emphasize the Gnaoua heritage in all its varieties and to invite the best world and jazz artists to come and perform in the unique and magical town of Essaouira.

The festival will first honour the gnaoua musicians with a new stage, which is dedicated to them at Bab Doukkala, allowing the ardent supporters of the Gnaoua rhythms to meet with the stars, from Hamid El Kasri to Abdelkébir Merchane, for 100 % Gnaoua concerts, as well as the traditional lilas in the exceptional Gnaoua Zaouia every evening at midnight for the purists.

World and jazz musicians will perform every evening on the stage of Bab Sebaa, offering a combination of the best current sounds: from the unexpected Trio Joubran, featuring three oud-playing brothers, to the English genius of bluesman Justin Adams, as well as the incredible Toumani Diabaté and the Korean traditional percussions of the Salmunori Group.

The Moulay Hassan stage will receive today’s most famous groups of very diverse styles, from the bubbling jazz of Eric Legnini to KyMani Marley’s reggae as well as the well-known jazzman Wayne Shorter and his quartet. Crowning this exceptional programme off: a concert by the National Orchestra of Barbès, a real ‘musical pot’, at the closing of the festival on Sunday. Moulay Hassan will also be the meeting place of Gnaoua and World music for fusion concerts, where new sounds arise from the meeting of the guembri and castanets with the finest instruments from all over the world: percussion, trumpet, saxophone, kora, piano …

On the smaller stages in the medina, the new generation of maâlems, embodied by Saïd Boulhimas who was sensational last year during the concert of the" Band of Gnaoua ", will accompany the established maâlems such as Allal Soudani, Saïd El Bourqui and Abdeslam Belghiti, to offer to the festival-goers the best Gnaoua music during both the day and evening concerts. Still in the same spirit of open dialogue established by the Festival, the Al Khayma place and the Marché des Grains will also be open to other traditional Moroccan musical genres - Ganga, Haddarates and Hmadcha.

Fans of electronic fusion and contemporary Moroccan music will be thrilled by two dedicated areas: the Pepsi stage and the Méditel stage.

10 concert sites from which everyone can choose according to their taste, 10 different but complementary programs forming the details of a unique puzzle, that of a pioneering and cosmopolitan festival. The quality of the music which has long won its spurs, will be as excellent as ever and the festival will once again meet the challenge to touch hundreds of thousands of people with the sounds of the most wonderful music!

In a nutshell.

Themed "a new decade of musical sharing and vibrations," the event, which runs until Sunday, features several artists from around the world, such as Wayne Shorter, Mustapha Bakbou, Hamid El Kasri, Allal Soudani, Abdelkébir Merchane, Mahmoud Guinea and Omar Hayat.

Also expected to appear are Justin Adams, Toumani Diabaté, Joubrane brothers, Korean band "Samulnori Molgae", Eric Legnini and Ky-Mani Marley.

Gnaoua are the descendents of slaves originating from Black Africa, who established brotherhoods throughout Morocco. They are made up of master musicians (maâlem), metal castanet players, clairvoyants, mediums and their followers.


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