The 14th Fes Festival of World Sacred Music takes place this year from 6 to 14 June in the ancient city of Fes (Fez), Morocco. This year celebrating the 1,200th anniversary of its founding, Fes has become a global music destination since the start of the festival following the first Gulf War.
The Fes Festival lures both musicians seeking fresh
ideas and renewed inspiration as well as international music lovers,
many of whom return year after year. VIP guests last year included
members of the Irish supergroup U2, composer Osvaldo Golijov, and
Queen Rania of Jordan.
Visitors can expect a magical experience, because 2008 looks set to be
outstanding - with a spectacular international line-up devised by
Artistic Director Gerard Kurdjian. It reflects diverse forms of
musical creativity - from grass roots folk music to popular
entertainment to the formal European classical traditions. The theme
of this year's festival is Paths to Creation.
The star of the opening night concert in the magnificent setting of
the Bab Makina palace courtyard, is the American diva Jessye Norman,
who will sing with the Avignon Lyric Orchestra conducted by Rachael
Worby. Jessye Norman is one of the undisputed greats of the operatic
world. She has sung all the major soprano roles and is especially
acclaimed for her performances of Verdi's Aida.
There will be two dazzling dance performances at the Bab Makina later
in the week - flamenco from Spain's Belen Maya and traditional
sacred dances from Indonesia featuring The Panti Pusaka Budaya
2008 also sees the return to the Fes Festival of the Sufi master
musician Julian Weiss with the Al-Kindi Ensemble featuring guest a
vocalist Sheikh Hamza Shakour from Damascus. In collaboration with The
Byzantine Tropos Choir from Athens, they will premiere a Christian and
Muslim homage to the Virgin Mary in the form of a Stabat Mater
More intimate afternoon concerts take place beneath a giant Barbary
oak in the Andalusian gardens of the Batha Museum. This year's
program includes Mari Boine from Norway performing Sami sacred songs
from the Scandinavian far north and Thanh Huong singing Vietnamese
traditional sacred songs. /more2
European classical sacred music comes from Cantus Coln from Germany
and Madhup Mughal from India offers a programme of devotional songs
from the sub continent.
Late night excitement is generated in the medina's Dar Tazi gardens
where Moroccan Sufi brotherhoods entrance audiences with ecstatic
music into the wee small hours. And in the Place Boujloud the people
of Fes gather at dusk for the Festival in the City series of free
This year the Fes Rencontre forum brings academics, philosophers,
politicians and priests together to examine the role of the sacred in
modern life. Mohammed Sarwar, the UK's first Muslim MP, will be
among the speakers.
Last year U2 spent time in Fes during the festival, writing and
rehearsing their new album, set to be released this October. They have
since spoken passionately about the transformational experience they
discovered at the festival. "Fes is a holy place for musicians
"says Bono, humanitarian activist and singer with the group, "we
came to pay tribute and to learn. We are on a pilgrimage".
Bono's perspective is shared by Sir Nicholas Pearson, Chairman of
The Temenos Academy: "Fes and its sacred music festival has a unique
opportunity to become the place where Islam meets the West in open and
fair-minded dialogue," he says. "It is for this reason I believe
Fes should become a place of pilgrimage for people of goodwill from
all religions. We should come to Fes to resolve our differences and
celebrate our common humanity. "
Source: THE VIEW FROM FEZ