Sunday, October 22, 2017

Fez Festival of Sufi Culture - Wrap Up

Festival Director Faouzi Skali and his team are to be congratulated on running a successful festival. The programming covered a wide range of examples of Sufi culture and was enjoyed by an enthusiastic audience.

The contingency plans in case of inclement weather worked smoothly so there was little or no disruption to the events. The choice of the Batha Prefecture Hall as an alternative venue worked well, despite its lack of atmosphere and average acoustics.

Farida Parveen

Highlights included the opening concert: Farida Parveen and the songs of the Samâa of Fez - "Homage to Al Shustari; of the Divine Love, from Morocco to India."  Farida Parveen, a Bangladeshi folk singer specialises in the songs of Lalon Shah and she delivered them in pure tones that delighted the audience. The Samâa of Fez were a given a warm reception, particularly by the large number of locals in the audience.

Shiva Prakash

Indian singer Shiva Prakash produced some gentle  music and was thanked with generous applause. The readings by Katia Légeret (in French) were beautifully delivered.

The concert by Daud Khan was a virtuoso performance,

Ustad Daud Khan 
The theatricality of the dervishes was a firm favourite

The Sufi Brotherhoods that performed varied widely, from the music-centred Tariqa Rissouniya to the popular Tariqa Sharqawiya, Tariqa Qadiriya Boutchichiya and the dynamic Tariqa Naqshbandiya.

Each tariqa had its followers present and joining in the chanting, though there was less audience participation than in some previous years.

The final concert with the dervishes and the Samaa of Fez was an exception, with large numbers of people singing along.

There was less audience participation than in previous years
The audience at the final concert were more vocal

Overall it was a successful festival and it is hope this will lay the foundation for festivals in the future.  The time of year was perfect, despite the unexpected arrival of some rain.

Festival Director Faouzi Skali

On the Downside

*The initial venue at the main gates of the Jnan Sbil Gardens was for opening night was a major staging mistake, as with bad sight lines and the viewing obstruction due to the placement of television cameras, a large number of people had no view of the stage. The problem was exacerbated by the number of performers who sat on the carpet rather than chairs. A raised dais for such performances would be sensible in the future.

Sight lines were bad, but the sound was fine

Thankfully, Festival Director Faouzi Skali took the complaints onboard and acted decisively. The venue was moved and  to a beautiful area of the gardens where a good view of the stage was available to all. The new venue was also set up in the round, which was a sensible decision.

*The increase in the number of people making video recordings with tablets or smart phones has increased and so have the complaints. Obstructing the view of others is not polite. One solution would be to ban all non-accredited photographers, but it would be very difficult to police.

Should phone and tablet photography be banned?
"Watching performances is spoiled by the incessant and unhindered use of mobile phones to take pictures and film, it does not stop ... I have heard many spectators and  foreigners who complained about it ... it's very disturbing and uncivil, the opposite of the spirit of the event ... please make announcements before the performance or ban phones and tablets outright! A show is sacred!" - A visitor from France
*Another issue is the lack of introduction of round table participants. While it is understood that many are well known, they are not so to everyone.  To have speakers in each discussion listed in the programme would also help.

*Translation headphones for English were not available and there was very little attempt to translate discussions. As one German citizen remarked "Do they really think our second language is French?"

* Some audience members felt that it would be a good idea to have fresh faces on the discussions and that overall the festival could afford to take risks in programming to include more "edgy" performances.

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

Photographs and text: Sandy McCutcheon

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


No comments: