Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fes Festival of World Sacred Music: Opening Night.

Note: If you are looking for the 2010 Festival, click here!

Bab Makina - a superb venue

Opening night at the Festival.

Last night saw the opening night of the 15th edition of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music and once again the Sacred Music Festival began with the arrival of the hugely popular Princess Lalla Salma (pictured left), who received a standing ovation from the almost capacity crowd.

Fortunately the storm clowds that had gathered in the early evening vanished and a balmy warm evening made the Bab Makina venue a delight to visit.

Musically, the opening night of the Fes Festival of Sacred Music was a triumph for Artistic Director, Gerard Kurdjian. In previous years the opening night had gathered a reputation for being dull and of less interest than other nights. After the disappointment of Jessye Norman last year, this was a great relief.

Princess Lalla Salma is shown to her seat.

Artistic Director, Gerard Kurdjian welcomes the crowd.

This year, thankfully, the opening concert was superb. Not only did the crowds turn up in great numbers, but the music of Marcel Khalife and the Al Mayadine Ensemble from Lebanon was well known and loved by the audience who needed little encouragement to sing along. It is little wonder his music is so well known, as this composer and master oud player has toured all over the world and in 2005 was named UNESCO Artist for Peace. Last year he was appointed musical director and resident composer of the newly founded Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra.

Marcel Khalife

The concert was dedicated to Mahmoud Darwiche, the famous Palestinian poet who died last year. In the spirit of a festival that has always honoured the musical traditions of the three Abrahamic faiths, Marcel Khalife is a Maronite Christian.

Khalife was joined on stage by the 18 piece band that included accordian, piano, percussion and a four piece female string quartet! The resulting music crossed the spectrum from Arabic to tango and included some beautifully haunting vocal work from Oumeima Khalil.

Oumeima Khalil.

The lighting and sound were superb and the Festival is due great credit for finally (after fifteen years of requests) installing large screens on both sides of the Bab Makina so that the audience at the back of the venue can actually see the concert. The audience were delighted by the innovation.

Sound guru, Chris Ekers.

The giant screens were a popular addition.

Faces in the crowd - enjoying the spectacle.

Tomorrow at the Festival.
Saturday 30 May Batha Museum 16h00 (€14)

Shantala Shivalingapa (India)

Kuchipudi Dance

Bab Makina 20h30 (A seats €47; B seats €28)

Marwa Wright (USA)


Opening night reporting and photographs: Helen Ranger, Suzanna Clarke and Sandy McCutcheon



Rebeca said...

Princess Lalla Salma, wife of King Mohammed VI of Morocco, attended the opening ceremony of the fourth meeting of Supreme Council of the Arab Women Organization in Tunis, Tunisian Republic on June 25.

dining tables said...

I don't know those people but I get interested on what they are doing in that Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. They look that they are having a great time in that Opening Night. Thank you for sharing this post.