Friday, October 20, 2017

Fez Festival of Sufi Culture - Day Seven

Friday was a day for the Dervishes (Click images to enlarge)

The first Friday round table took place before a small audience in the Prefecture Hall. By comparison, the panel itself was large, with ten participants, including Festival Director, Faouzi Skali. The theme of the discussion was the question, "Can we teach Sufism today as a culture?" The general consensus was in the affirmative.

The ten member panel

The 4 pm: Round table: "Rûmi or the religion of Love: poetry of the spiritual journey"

Leili Anvar

Evening Concert
First part: poetic and musical recital of Rumi poetry by Leili Anvar, Frédéric Ferney and Fady Zakkar

The poetry recital was an hour of beautiful tranquility with fine performances from Leili Anvar, Frédéric Ferney and Fady Zakkar.

Leili Anvar' - a fine voice and a sense of stagecraft

Leili Anvar showed she had more than just academic skills and a fine voice. Her stage craft was that of an actor who, knowing they were seated with the audience on four sides, played to all sections of the audience.

Frédéric Ferney

Frédéric Ferney's dramatic voice was perfect for the parts he read, as was Leili's gentle singing.

Fady Zakkar provided the musical soundscape, playing on a series of instruments including a twin flute, where one pipe acted as a drone beneath the melody, played on the other. It was the performance of an accomplished musician and he was accorded warm applause.

Fady Zakkar with his twin flute 

Some background
Leili Anvar was born in Iran, graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure, is a graduate of the Razi High School in Teheran, and has a PhD in Iranian Studies (1999) and an Associate in English (1991).

She is a lecturer in Persian Literature at the National Institute of Eastern Languages ​​and Civilisations in Paris.

In addition, she is a columnist on French Culture and the world of religions. Leili Anvar is a frequent panelist on discussions of Sufism and Persian culture.

As a translator and specialist in mystical literature, she has worked on the work of the poet Djalâl ad-Dîn Rûmî, in addition to a number of academic articles. She published Rûmî,  a book on the life and work of the Persian mystical poet of the 13th century,. She directed the publication of an anthology of Arabic, Persian and Turkish poetry entitled Orient - Thousand Years of Poetry and Painting for which she translated Persian poems in 2009. She also written a biography of the poet Kurdo-Persian Malek Jân Ne'mati, and an anthology of his works: Malek Jân Ne'mati, "Life is not short, but time is short"

Part Two: Tariqa Naqshbandiya

However, despite the serenity of the first part of the concert, the night belonged to the dramatic Tariqa Naqshbandiya. They are familiar to audiences in Fez who have seen Turkish Sufi Brotherhoods at previous festivals, and were welcomed warmly.

Once again they arrived with chanting and drums and once they were all on stage they formed a semi-circle and went straight into action, producing over an hour of intense high energy chanting.

It was a bold and unhesitant performance with a vocal roughness that is startling to those experiencing the tariqa for the first time. It is the only Sufi group that could possibly intimidate a Maori rugby team doing a haka. The group's solo singers, (known as munshid in Morocco) had commanding tenor and baritone voices.

These musicians, singers and dancers (Semazens), represent one of the most intriguing aspects of the mystical culture of Turkey. The Sema - the whirling dance - and the Zikr - the hymns sung by the sacred choir - are connected to each other in a spiritual ambience that leads the Dervish to enter a mystical universe.

There were initially three Semazens (dancers), but one unfortunately dropped out.

It was a great performance on a beautiful night in the Jnan Sbil Gardens.

Tomorrow at the Festival - the final day
Saturday October 21st

4pm: Round table: A roundup of the week's discussions

8pm: Closing ceremony with the great voices of the Samâa of Morocco at Bab al Makina

Text and photographs: Sandy McCutcheon

Click on links to read a full review of each day

Who are the Sufis?
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six
Day Seven
Day Eight

The View From Fez is an official Media Partner of the Fez Festival of Sufi Culture


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