Update: The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 2014
Next year’s festival will be held from 13-20 June. It promises to be a bumper edition as 2014 marks the 20th anniversary. The theme of the festival is
The Conference of the Birds: Journey of Cultures
The Conference of the Birds is an epic poem of some 4500 lines, written in Persian by the poet Farid ud-Din Attar and finished in around 1177. It is a Sufi allegorical poem that tells the story of the quest for a king undertaken by the birds of the world. It also describes the Sufi path to enlightenment.
Fes: Reflections of Andalusia
This is the theme of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 2013 to be held from 7-15 June. The period of Al Andalus spanned eight centuries – from the 8th to the 15th – and was a time of remarkable tolerance and acceptance: Muslims, Christians and Jews cohabited peacefully in the Iberian Peninsula. A rich cultural tradition grew of music, art, poetry and courtly love.
Many of the great thinkers of the time passed through Fes, spending time there teaching or studying at the Qarawyine University. These included Maimonides, the Jewish physician and philosopher whose lodgings in the medina still stand today near the Water Clock and the Bouanania Medersa. Others were Ibn Tofail, Averroes, Raymond Lull and the great poet, Ibn ‘Arabi.
The beautiful poster designed for this year’s festival features one of these philosophers in conversation with Nizam, also known as Harmony, who is his source of inspiration. In the background is the woman herself – the muse, who represents the feminine creator. In her universe, historical truths and symbolic representations meld: there is a courtyard where scholars recline, studying wise manuscripts; an Andalusian garden composed of rare plants; magical animals; the fabulous bird the simorgh; Arabian horses royally caparisoned; a peacock.
The programme for the festival celebrates the concept of Andalusia. Artistic Director Alain Weber tells us ‘The Amazigh, Arab, flamenco, Muslim, Jewish and Christian aspects of Andalusia will be brought to life at the opening concert, under the artistic direction of the great contemporary flamenco dancer Andres Marin, with Carmen Linares and a large number of artists representing all these Andalusias.’
Particular attention is paid to the feminine which was such an important aspect of Andalus culture, with a substantial number of women performers including Francoise Atlan, Rosemary Standley, Aicha Redouane, Mauritanian griot Coumbane Mint Ely Warakane, Abir Nehme and Patti Smith.
There are some remarkable combinations of performers in this programme which underscore the premise of Convivencia or living together in harmony: Sardinian polyphony matched with Mongolian khoomi overtone chant; a Greek Orthodox choir from Istanbul performing with the Mevlevi whirling dervishes; and Bengali khyal chant teamed with Baroque music.
There are two innovations this year: the recently renovated Jnan Sbil Gardens will be open throughout the Festival and will feature Egyptian song and acrobats from Tangier. At Dar Mokri, one afternoon is dedicated to workshops with masters of choreography and music. Both of these are most welcome additions to the Festival lineup.
For the programme, see the Festival’s website which is now in English.
For details of Fringe events and restaurants opening to suit concert-goers, see the Fringe Page on the Fez Riads website.
For accommodation, see our sister site, Fez Riads. We have accommodation in beautiful traditional guesthouses in the medina at all price levels.
Types of tickets:
Book seats through the Festival website, www.fesfestival.com. You can book for individual concerts, take a pass just for the concerts, or a pass to the concerts and the Forum. An e-ticket will be issued, which you exchange for the real thing at the Batha Museum, or at the kiosk outside Bab al Makina. We also have a ticket collection service if you’d like your tickets delivered to your guesthouse. Contact us for details.
There are free concerts in Boujloud Square each evening starting at 22h00, and Sufi Brotherhoods perform at Dar Tazi each evening from 23h00. The programme for this is not yet available.
There will be art exhibitions, though details are not yet available.
Nights in the Medina:
There will be three evenings this year where several concerts are held on each evening in various venues in the medina. These are intimate spaces, usually beautiful riads. Often there are carpets to sit on and the artists can perform unplugged. You need to plan carefully which concerts you want to attend (you can’t do all of them). Venues are signposted and there are lots of little boys around to show the way for a couple of Dirhams.
There are two categories of seats for the evening concerts at Bab al Makina, A and B. All seats are unreserved, but the B seats are further back. It’s a huge auditorium (actually a parade ground in front of the Royal Palace) and the seating is raked, but the B seats are not at good as the A seats, as is reflected in the pricing. If you buy a pass, you automatically have A seats.
There is just one category of seating for the afternoon concerts at the Batha Museum and it’s a much smaller venue. Seating is not raked here.
Fes Forum: Giving Soul to Globalisation
The forum takes place on the first four mornings of the Festival 8-11 June at the Batha Museum.