|Posted by Alecia Cohen on April 22, 2016 at 5:40 AM||comments ()|
Morocco announces the 19th Gnaoua Festival which will take place in the Coastal town of Essaouira from May 12th - 15th, 2016. This annual festival will feature artists from around the world along with Gnaoua Maalem greats. The Gnaoua Festival is sponsored by Maroc Telecom, Sidi Ali, Bankque Populaire, Oulmes and several other Moroccan companies. The Gnaoua Festival is the voice of a tradition, memory and music. Nineteen years ago, a team of local Souri's started an event, 100% Moroccan which enabled the Gnaoua Maalems to usher in a new chapter of their life.
Once called, Mogador and the Port of Timbuktu, Essaouira continues to host this annual fetival that has received international acclaim. The unique combination of International stars, Jazz greats and traditional Gnaouas makes it one of a kind. Tributes to this years annual festival will be made to Maalem Mahmoud Guinea and the great Doudou Ndiaye Rose, magician of the Senegalese drum. Mahmoud Guinia was a Moroccan Gnawa musician, singer and guembri player, who was traditionally regarded as a Maâllem, i.e. master.
Doudou Ndiaye Rose was a Senegalese drummer, composer and band leader, and was the recognized modern master of Senegal's traditional drum, the sabar. He recorded for both domestic and foreign labels, and collaborated with numerous western musicians. There will be a combination of residences, early evening and late night Concerts along with conference style meet ups, all Gnaoua and Souri style. Below is an up close view at the 19th Annual Gnaoua Festival's line up and artist program.
Artist Line Up - Essaouira 19th Gnaoua Festival From the USA:
Randy Weston: Africa Jamaaladeen Tacuma: Groove Christian Scott: Hewho youth to jazz Jeff Ballard Trio Blitz The Ambassador Hassan Hakmoun: International Gnaoui
From EUROPE: Las Migas: Flamenco witha female fusion tone Jaba & Friends: Roots & reggae
From AFRICA: Hoba Hoba Spirit: The Moroccan music phenomenon event! Mohamed Derham N3rdistan: Rock, rap and Arabic poetry! Songhoy Blues:the quiet force of Timbuktu DoudouN'diaye Rose family:Tribute to mathematician of the Drum! Mehdi Nassouli: The Hajhouj conquering the world RachidaTalal,The pearl of the South Oudaden, rebirth of Amazigh music 3ADA Swiria Issaoua of Fez Hmadcha
Festival Stars from MOROCCO Festival stars: Maalemsfrom all over Morocco (Casablanca, Marrakech, Essaouira, Meknes, Rabat, Ksar El Kebir) MAALEM HAMID EL KASRI: The Santana of the Gnaouis MAALEM ABDELLAH AKHARRAZ: Worthy successor of the Guinea heritage MAALEM ABDESSLAM ALIKANE: Themaalem of maalems MAALEM HASSAN BOUSSOU: The prodigal son MAALEM OMAR HAYAT: For love of Reggae MAALEM ABDELKEBIR MERCHANE, The Gnaoui with silver hands MAALEM MOHAMED KOUYOU, The most American of maalems! MAALEM MAHJOUB KHELMOUS, The magician of the guembri MAALEM MOKHTAR GUINEA:Tagnaouite running in his blood MAALEM SAID OUGHESSAL:A Hispanic breeze blowing on Gnaoua MAALEM ABDENBI EL GUEDARI: An electro Gnaoui MAALEM MUSTAPHA BAQBOU:The hippy Maalem MAALEM SEDDIK BOUNHAR:The passionate Gnaoui who has travelled the world MAALEM AHMED BAQBOU: The gnaoui prince of the ochre-colored city MAALEM Said BOULHIMAS: Maalemin spite of himself MAALEM ALLAL SOUDANI: Ancestral Gnaoui MAALEM SAID BOURKI: Faithful to tradition MAALEM ABDELKADER AMLIL:The Gnaouibluesman MAALEM ABDENBI EL MEKNASSI:“ ElMeknassi” MAALEM RACHID EL HAMZAOUI:Gnaoui Ghiwani
The Official Festival Program - Essaouira 19th Gnaoua Festival
May 13th, 2016 Place: Zaouia Disna Bilal Artist Line Up: Maalem Allal et Najib Soudani and Maalem Said Boulhimas and Maalem Said El Bourki Time: 11:00pm Place: Dar Loubane Artist Line Up: Anciens Gnaoua Time: 12:00am Place: Dar Loubane Artist Line Up: Maalem Seddik Bounhar Time: 12:05am - Residence Place: Dar Loubane Artist Line Up: Songhoy Blues and Maalem Abdeslam Alikane
May 14th, 2016 Time: 8:00pm Place: Place Moulay Hassan Artist: Maalem Abdellah Akharaz Time: 8:05pm Place: Place Moulay Hassan Artist: Movie Projection - Maalem Mahmoud Guinea Time: 9:15pm Place: Place Moulay Hassan Artist: La Releve Gnaoua and Musiciens de Doudou N'Diaye Rose Time: 10:40pm Place: Place Moulay Hassan Artist: Christian Scott Time: 12:00pm Place: Place Moulay Hassan Artist: Maalem Hamid El Kasri Time: 11:00pm Place: Dar Loubane Arist: Maalem Abdenbi El Meknassi Time: 12:00pm Place: Dar Loubane Artist: Maalem Rachid El Hamzaoui Time: 8:30pm Place: Scene de la Plage Arist: Khalid Amrhoche, Khalid Lzoubaz, La Releve Gnaoua, Mohamed Bomzor Time: 9:35pm Place: Scene de la Plage Artist: Songhoy Blues Time: 11:30pm Place: Scene de la Plage Arist: N3Rdistan Time: 11:50pm Place: Scene de la Plage Artist: Maalem Mustapha Baqbou Time: 11:00pm Place: Borj Bab Marrakech Artist: Maalem Abdenbi El Guedari Time: 11:00pm Place: Zaouia Issaoua Place: Tarifa de Safi Time: 12:00am Place: Zaouia Issaoua Artist: Maalem Mahjoub Khalmouss
May 15th, 2016 Time: 5:00pm Place: Place Moulay Hassan Artist: Oudaden Time: 6:00pm Place: Place Moulay Hassan Artist: Maalem Mustapah Baqubou, Mohamed Derham, Nabil Khalidi, Omar Sayed
For more information about Essaouira or the Gnaoua Festival Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on March 4, 2016 at 7:35 AM||comments ()|
The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music will take place from May 6th - 14th this year in in the imperial city of Fes. The festival was founded in 1994 by the Moroccan scholar and philanthropist Faouzi Skali and was created to showcase major musical traditions of sacred, spiritual music and world music. The current Artistic Director is Alain Webber. Each year the Fes festival celebrates artists from Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu and other faiths to perform together in a spirit of mutual respect and collaboration.
The Fes Festival is comprised of: A four-day Forum called Rencontres de Fes under the rubric "Giving Soul to Globalisation" where politicians, social activists, academics and religious leaders come together in dialogue to discuss the urgent issues of our times. These include conflict resolution, climate change, urban renewal, social justice and much more. Intimate afternoon concerts at the Dar Batha Museum and its surrounding Andalusian gardens. Art and film exhibitions, poetry readings at the Dar Bartha Museum and other locations within Fes. Sufi nights: Sufi Music rituals concerts that begin at midnight performed by Moroccan Sufi brotherhoods in the Dar Tazi gardens, in the heart of the Fes medina. In the morning, visitors can take part in seminars or round table discussions covering topics related to the theme of the festival. By attending the discussion, you can gain extra insight into the meaning of the festival.
In the afternoon, evening, and late at night, there are concerts given by performers arriving from every angle of the globe. These musicians help celebrate all the cultures and religions of the world through a multiplicity of their songs and rituals. The musical spectrum heard includes early European classical, Sufi ritual songs and trance music, Arab-Andalusian rhythms, a Bulgarian orthodox choir, Hindustani chants, Celtic sacred music, Christian Gospel, Swedish chamber choir, Pakistani Qawwali incantations, Egyptian madhi odes, flamenco-style Christian saeta, ancient Indian gwalior chants and Turkish whirling dervishes. Traditionally, the festival’s most impressive afternoon concerts take place by the Dar Batha Museum, which is set amidst a beautiful Andalusian garden and has a backdrop of the Atlas Mountains. During the evening concerts are held at the Bab Makina and Palace Boujeloud. After the last concert of the night is over, the medina is the place to head for a continuation of a once in a life time experience. Every evening at midnight, there are free "Sufi Nights". These highly popular Sufi ritual trance performances are held at the Dar Tazi Palace gardens where Sufi brotherhoods like the Hamadcha, the Aissaoua and The Master Musicians of Jajouka perform while you relax on Berber rugs and sip mint tea.
Fes Festival Program May 6th - 22nd, 2016
Friday, May 6th: Bab Al Makina - Opening Night Premier 21h00 A Sky full of Stars: International Premiere Women of myth and poetry from Sheherazade to the Queen of Sheba With women artists from Morocco, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Ethiopia, India, Lebanon, Italy and Africa, with an oriental orchestra.
Saturday, May 7th: Jnan Sbil Garden 16:30 Sahar Mohammadi with Ingie Women’s Qanun Ensemble – Iran & Azerbaijan Sacred Persian song Bab Al Makina: 21h00 Evening Concert
Durbar: Indian Night Premiere Glory of Pricnessa nd in praise of the Gods, a dazzling musical engagement between some of India's greatest Musicians Boujloud Square: 22.00 Regional Choir of Fes | H-Kayne
Sunday, May 8th: Jnan Sbil Garden 16:30
Christine Salem- Renunion Maloya revisited Bab Al Makina: 21h00 Evening Concert
Divas of the World: Part I - Hindi Zahra, From France and Morocco & Part 2: Oumous Sangrari, from Mali Boujloud Square: 22h00 Over Boys | Batoul Marouani
Monday, May 9th: Jnan Sbil Garden 16:30 Officina Zoe- Italy Women's songs of love, work and war with Maria Mazzotta (voice) and Maristella Martella (dance) Night in the Medina Part 1: Homage to India, Evening Ragas Dary Adiyel 18:00 and 20h30 Rageshri Das and Ghazal Song from Kolkota, India Sidki Mohamed Ben Youssef Cultural Complext: 19:h00 Shashank Subramaniam and Rakesh Chaurasia Masters of the Bansuri flute from Chennai and Mumbai, India Boujloud Square: Mourad Bouriki/ Lamia Zaidi Prefecture Hall, Batha The King of Ghosts:
Premiere - India & Morocco, Cinema/ Concert Composed by Soumik Datta, Johannes Berauer and Cormac Byrne for the film Goopy Gaven Bagha Baven by Satyajit Ray (1929)
Tuesday, May 10th: Jnan Sbil Garden 16:30
Hawniyaz: inspired by Kurdish, Persian and Azeri traditions With Aynur (song), Kayhan Kalhor (kamantche), Salman Gambarov (piano) and Cemîl Ǫoçgirî (multi-instrumentalist) Night in the Medina Part 2: Dar Adiyel: 20h00 Yulduz Turdieva – Uzbekistan Shash-maqâm from Bukhara Sidi Mohamed Ben Youssef Cultural Complex: 2h.00 Ensemble Dialogos – Bosnia and Herzogovina Heretic Angels: Popular Rituals and Beliefs Prefecture Hall, Batha: 21.30 OY – Switzerland & Ghana Space Diaspora Boujloud Square Participation of the French Institute in Fes: Buddha Bar | Omar Boutmazoukt Sidi Mohamed Ben Youssef Cultural Complex, Parvathy Baul and Mehdi Nassouli – India and Morocco, Poetry of Wandering Mystics, from Bauls to Gnawas
Wednesday, May 11th:
Night in the Medina III 20.00 Sidi Mohamed Ben Youssef Cultural Complex Lamar – Arab Songs from Palestine 21.30 Prefecture Hall, Batha (opposite the Batha Museum) Farida Mohammad Ali – Iraq The Voice of Maqâm 22.00 Boujloud Square Najat Atabou | Embassy of Pakistan 23.00 Dar Adiyel Ariana Vafadari – Iran and France Gathas: Zoroastrian Song
Thursday, May 12th: Jnan Sbil Garden - 16:h30 Agraw- Lalla Rquia Ouhmad Morocco Sacred Amazigh Song from Tiznit Riad Dar Bensouda, Qettanine 18h00 Shaikh Hassan Dyck and Muhabbat Caravan Meditation with Sufi flavours Bab Al Makina: 21h00 Evening Concert
Istanbul – Fes: Premiere – Turkey & Morocco Mevlevi whirling dervishes with the Mohammed Briouel Andalous Orchestra Boujloud Square Mahmoud Al Idrissi | Khalid Ali Orchestra
Friday, May 13th: 16.30 Jnan Sbil Garden - 16:h30 Virginia Rodrigues – Brazil. Celestial Voice Bab Al Makina: 21h00 Evening Concert, Tribute to Oum Kaltoum - Egypt with the National Opera Orchestra of Cairo Boujloud Square: 22h00 Reda Taliyani | Abdellah Yacoubi
Saturday, May 14th: Jnan Sbil Garden - 16:h30 Yom – France The Silence of Exodus with Yom, clarinet and composition Farid D, cello Claude Tchamitchian, double bass Bijan Chemirani, zarb, daf and bendir (percussion) Bab Al Makina: 21h00 Evening Concert Samira Saïd – Morocco, A Moroccan Singing Star 22.00 Boujloud Square Marcel Khalife
For more information the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music of a Fes Tour Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on October 23, 2015 at 11:50 AM||comments ()|
Each year Essaouira hosts the Andalusian Atlantic Music Festival (The Festival des Andalousies Atlantique) which pays homage to great musicians and the Andalusian legacy of hispano-Moroccan traditions in the Magreb. Celebrating the friendship and shared history between Spain and Morocco the 12th Annual Andalusian Festival of Essaouira will take place from October 29th - 31st, 2015. Founded in 1992 by Mr. Andre Azoulay, a Senior adviser to King Mohammed VI of Morocco, the Andalusian Atlantic Music Festival celebrates the diverse heritage of Moroccans and the town of Essaouira's historical co existence of Jews, Berbers, Spaniards, Muslims and Christians who contributed in weaving together a multicultural and rich artistic coastal town. The 12th Andalusian Atlantic Music Festival features concerts along with round table discussions and debates led by academics and professionals in the artistic field as to contribute the importance of cultural diversity.
The schedule for Essaouira 12th Andalusian Atlantic Music Festival from October 29th - 31st, 2015 is featured here:
Thursday, October 29, 2015 Salle Omnisport 21h: Compania de Danza Flamenca, a spectacle of Flamenco Dance and Music 22h: Joseph and Daniel Afriat, Jacob "Coco " Tordjman, Abdelhak El Kaabe Is and Houssam Guinea, a concert of the Intimate connection between Jews and Muslims
Friday, October 30, 2015 Dar Souiri 10h: Projection of the court-feature film "Ya lhmama" (the dove) a collaboration with the pianist Amit Hai Cohen 10h30 : Forum: "An Essaouira Culture Banquet of sharing " 15 h30 : Concert with Moroccan singer, Benjamin Bouzaglo 16h30 : The Orchestra of Rachid Ouchehad and the brothers Abdellaoui, a concert of Chgouri after midnight featuring Spiritual Music Hall Omnisport 21h: Malhoun Music Conservatory and Andalusian Musical interpretations by Nabyla Maan Zaineb Afailal and Amine Debbi and musicians 21h50 : Concert with the Singer, Sanaa Marahati. It will resume the works of popular Salim Halali with the Orchestra Shabab Alwatan Organization Al Andalous
Saturday, October 31, 2015 Hotel Mgallery the Medina 10h Projection of the film "Aida" of Driss Mrini on the relationship Judeo-Muslim connections in Morocco. Dar Souiri 16h: Innovative Concert for new arrangements and the traditional repertoire of Arabo-andalusian music 17h: Concert with the female ensemble Tangerois Arij after midnight: a concert of Spiritual Music Hall Omnisport 21h: Festival finale with the Orchestra Shabab Al Watan Organization Al Andalous, and the voice of Benjamin Bouzaglo, brothers Afriat and Jacob Tordjman. They will be joined by Sanaa Marahati and Zainab Afailal for the final concert
For more information about the 12th Andalusian Atlantic Music Festival or Essaouira Private Tours
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on September 14, 2015 at 9:35 AM||comments ()|
PURE Life Experiences is one of the leading travel expositions for high-end and experiential travel that will take place in Marrakech from November 12th – 15th, 2015 at the Palais Des Congres. PURE Marrakech has become one of the world’s leading, annual and exclusive conferences that caters to the top-end of the market. Travel agencies and up market, luxury suppliers attend to have the privledge to expand their network.
The Founder of PURE Marrakech is Serge Dive. His vision is that “Experiential Travel is a journey away from home, involving a truly memorable and powerful experience (active, cultural, natural, social or spiritual) that will enrich a person’s life and improve the way they connect with both loved ones and with the world.” Founded in 2009 by Serge Dive and Sarah Ball Pure Life Experiences offers travel suppliers who attend the Marrakech expo a unique platform to sell high-end experiential travel in a changing marketplace where luxury consumers are looking for something different.
PURE Marrakech hand selects high-end travel agencies, along with other travel suppliers such as hotels and private travel designers with a global reputation who are capable of interested and capable to expand brands, innovative ideas and ethos to an exclusive market. Some of the Morocco based list of attendees for 2015 ranges from agents and hotels such as Abercrombie and Kent to the Beldi group along with Ezzahra, Hotel Sahrai, Jnane Tamsa, Kasbah Toubkal, Merzouga Luxury Desert Camps, Palais Amani, Plan It Morocco and Taj Omaya.
The Palais Des Congres where Pure Marrakech takes place has become an in-demand destination among many event organisers who plan events in Marrakech. Other annual expos that use the Palais Des Congres are the Marrakech Film Festival and the Marrakech Design Expo. The interior space allows for seminars, conferences, indoor exhibitions, outdoor exhibitions and elegant rooms for parties. The venue holds thousands of different events every year including cultural, social and business events.
For more information about Pure Life Experiences
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on August 18, 2015 at 7:10 PM||comments ()|
Travel Exploration announces our Imperial City fall cuisine tour slated for November 2015 with a focus on Fes-Gourmet. Inclusive in this gastronomic adventure for foodies are daily Morocco food tours and evenings of delight at the celebrate the Fes-Gourmet festival. The Fes Gourmet Festival is an experience not to be missed and a perfect inclusion on a private tour to Morocco for foodies and leading chefs.
Visit Fes with Travel Exploration this November for a once in a lifetime culinary adventure and a Taste of Morocco. Participate in dining at over 10 riads in the Fez medina who offer up unique dishes indigenous of traditional Fes. Fes-Gourmet is the premiere cuisine festival that takes place annually in Fez and was created by the Regional Association for Maison d'Hotes to celebrate and highlight traditional cuisine of Fes.
During the period of November 1st – 11th, 2015 a selective group of boutique riads in Fez renowned for their magnificent cuisine traditions will offer exclusive three course menus created specifically as a part of Fes-Gourmet. Guests who participate in the Fes-Gourmet Festival will respectively enjoy a gourmet menu chosen by each riad in Fez. Each menu offers main courses unique to Fes and traditional Moroccan tea.
Other amenities on Travel Exploration's Taste of Morocco adventure are a Fes Souk Tasting Trail Tour of the old Medina, a Cooking Class in Marrakech led by a Daada Chef and a five-course dining experience in Djemaa El Fna Square.
The following menus have already been selected for the Fes-Gourmet Cuisine Festival:
FES GOURMET: Prefixed Rate, Water & Tea Included
RIAD DAMIA Quail Know to honey stuffed to the semolina & raisins
RIAD SOUAFINE Couscous Medfoun of Lamb Ryad Mabrouka Tagine of Lamb Mrouzia, Raisins & Almonds
DAR VICTORIA Kefta of Whiting & eggs of trout in the Atlas,Saffron Rice
DAR EL BALI Tagine of Chicken with Almonds and apricots stuffed
RIAD Bearded Owl-clover Mekfoul of Shin of beef, onions and tomatoes caramelized
DAR ATTAJALI Tagine Vegetarian the Cardoons, turnips, potatoes, artichokes, Dates & walnuts
RIAD THE SUGAR BOWL OF FEZ Tagine of chicken farmer to tomatoes candied
DAR AL SAFADI Fillet of Beef with sweet spices, vegetables in season
RIAD ANATA Tagine of Lamb with Prunes & Almonds
Luxury and Comfort Boutique Riads in Fez participating in "Fes Gourmet” are: Ryad Mabrouka, Dar El Bali, Dar Attajalli, Riad Braya, Riad Norma, Riad Souafine, Dar Damia, Dar El Ghalia, Riad Al Bartal, Riad El Amine, Le Sucrier de Fès
Join Travel Exploration’s Fes- Gourmet and Imperial City Cuisine Tour A Taste of Morocco Today – 11 Days/ 10 Nights of Blissful Dining and Culinary Exploration for Foodies
November 1st: Casablanca Arrival. Visit the Grand White Mosque. Seafood tasting and fresh grill of Casablanca. Overnight Casablanca.
November 2nd: Visit Imperial Meknes, the Olive Market, Local Fare and the Roman Ruins of Volbuilis en route to Fes. Fez Gastronomy at a Boutique Riad. Overnight Fes.
November 3rd: Fes Site Seeing Tour. Fes Gastronomy at a Boutique Riad. Overnight Fes.
November 4th: Fes Palaces and Gardens Tour. Fes Gastronomy Dinner at a Boutique Riad. Overnight Fes.
November 5th: Fes Souk Tasting Trails. The best Fes Food Tour. Fes Gastronomy Dinner at a Boutique Riad. Overnight Fes.
November 6th: Cook Up Fes – Participate in a Cooking Class – Options are family style with local specialties or pastry class. Fes Gastronomy Dinner at a Boutique Riad. Overnight Fes.
November 7th: Fes – High Atlas Ifrane Region – Tasting of Local Pastries. Tea with a local family and continue to Marrakech. Marrakech gastronomy dinner. Overnight Marrakech.
November 8th: Marrakech Site Seeing Tour. A Taste of Marrakech- 5 Course Dinner in Djemaa El Fna Square. Overnight Marrakech.
November 9th: Marrakech Cooking Class Led by a Daada Chef. Marrakech gastronomy dinner. Overnight Marrakech.
November 10th: Marrakech Excursion to the High Atlas for a Berber village lunch and Hike or Excursion to the Coastal town of Essaouira. Seafood gastronomic lunch. Overnight Marrakech.
November 11th: Marrakech - Casablanca Departure.
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on May 24, 2015 at 4:35 AM||comments ()|
Each year, the holy and ancient city of Fes, Morocco is host to the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. This festival brings together sacred and world music from many different cultural, religious and musical traditions. This year's theme, "Fes: An African Reflection" recalls how Fes was once the intellectual, cultural, spiritual and commercial hub of an Empire which traded and connected with its neighbors across mountains and deserts. The opening night of the festival, held on May 22nd at the magnificent Bab Makina venue, wowed the audience as they were taken across the borders of ancient empires to meet these fascinating peoples and learn their customs. As the daylight dimmed and the swifts ceased circling over the rooftops of Old Fes, the last of the VIPs took their seats at the front of a sell-out venue for the opening concert of the 21st Fes Festival of Sacred Music. HRH Princess Lalla Selma - representing King Mohammed VI, who is patron of the Festival - arrived in a huddle of black-suited security in a stunning white and gold caftan, to a patter of applause and a burst of flashbulbs. Once the audience was settled, the welcome address was delivered in Arabic, English and French and our journey - in the footsteps of Leo Africanus (Hassan el Wazzan, 16th century diplomat, traveler and chronicler of Africa) - took us across North and West Africa, from tribe to tribe and tradition to tradition in a full circle until we returned back to the holy city of Fes.
This year's opening night -for the 21st edition - was a true spectacle. As we journeyed southward, over 100 artists gave us a glimpse of the musical and cultural traditions along the way: from the Amazigh fables of the Moroccan mountains, to the Andalusian traditions of Fes. From the griot heritage of West Africa to the Simb Lion dance of Senegal. With each step along the journey, the backdrop - which began with Fes famous Bab Boujeloud gate projected on the walls of the Bab Makina - changed from Savannah to desert camp, to palm oasis and back to imperial city. Moroccan oud master, Driss al Maloumi, opened the show with an Amazigh fable about a sad moon under a backdrop of a full moon and a starry sky. Then to follow, Amazigh songstress, Chérifa greeted the crowd. A real highlight was the Masks of the Moon Bwaba Ritual, the group performing for the first time outside their native Burkina Faso. Their startling black and white costumes and the haunting melody of the percussion accompanied an incredibly energetic and ritualistic dance. On a gentler note, Malian Ballaké Sissoko, gave the audience a real treat as he appeared on stage with no less than 10 koras, of the Kora Ensemble of Bamako. After a whistle stop tour of Africa, we arrived with Hassan al Wazzan back in Fez, at the tomb of Sidi Ahmed Tijani, founder of the Tijani Sufi brotherhood. The evening concluded with the Tijani brotherhood singing a song familiar to all the Fassi (Fes natives) in the audience. The opening event certainly got the Fes Sacred Music Festival off to an impressive and inspiring start. Many of the artists present will appear at over 50 concerts and events over the 9 days of the festival until 30 May 2015. Written by Lynn Sheppard Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients.
For more information about the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music
Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on May 17, 2015 at 8:00 AM||comments ()|
The 18th Annual Gnaoua Music Festival took place in Essaouira, on Morocco's Atlantic Coast from May 14th -17th. Every year, the festival showcases the best of Moroccan Gnaoua musicians and a wide array of Gnaoua and world music. Gnaoua is a musical genre based in Sufi Islamic culture with its roots in sub-Saharan Africa. Moroccan and international artists are also invited to perform, often, in unique fusion concerts alongside Gnaoua groups. One of the most anticipated World Music acts at this year's festival was Hindi Zahra, a Moroccan-born vocalist who played Essaouira for the first time. Born in Morocco in 1979, Hindi Zahra (her stage name is an inversion of her real name) released her first album, Handmade, in 2010 to critical acclaim, winning various awards in France, where she has been based since 1993. Hindi Zahra sings principally in the unusual combination of the Berber language of Morocco and in English. In contrast to her Moroccan linguistic heritage, her musical heritage is an international mélange of folk, rock, jazz, soul and blues, as well as African, Spanish and Latin influences. The timbre of her voice and the fluidity of her movement reveal her North African roots.
In Essaouira, the audience was treated to an early release of tracks from Hindi's new album, Homeland, released in April 2015, as well as some popular favourites from her back catalogue. She strutted on stage, channelling a rock goddess persona, to open with To The Forces, a song, which celebrates the mountain Berbers of Morocco, strong and proud, living at one with nature, despite conditions of extreme poverty. The song is the opening track from Homeland, an album that was largely written in Marrakech, at the end of the promotional tour for Handmade. At this time, Hindi says, she was exhausted after 400 gigs in 2.5 years.She shut herself in a traditional riad (townhouse) with only an internet connection and her own creativity. The result is Homeland, an album conceived in and inspired by Morocco.
After a night of powerful funk, fusion, jazz and Gnaoua music from the likes of Gnaoua rock star, Maalem Omar Hayat and Nigerian Afro Beat drummer, Tony Allen, Hindi Zahra had a challenge ahead of her to maintain the energy of the night's concerts and capture the attention of the Essaouira audience. She not only held her own, she rocked the main stage. Her lilting voice recalls Joni Mitchell or Norah Jones, but these comparisons belie her rock star presence, which is far larger than her petite frame would suggest. The locals were enthused by her Berber lyrics and she was clearly excited to be finally playing at Essaouira with such a wealth of new material. The appeal of Hindi Zahra is in the way she embodies both fragility and strength and in the sheer diversity of her songs, which she writes herself. Her voice and her energy transform themselves effortlessly from the Latin rhythms of her big hit from her first album, Beautiful Tango, through the jazzy tones of Imik Si Mik from the same album and sung mainly in Berber, to Stand Up (from Homeland), which in Essaouira she performed to a ska/reggae arrangement with Mehdi Nassouli of Agadir. In Any Story, from the new album, Hindi Zahra's voice haunts with a mystery that suggests an artist more experienced and accomplished than her years. Hindi Zahra's albums are available to download on I-tunes and on her website directly.
Written by Lynn Sheppard Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients.
For more information about the Essaouira Gnaoua Festival Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on April 21, 2015 at 1:45 PM||comments ()|
Every year, the sun-bleached, windswept city of Essaouira on Morocco's Atlantic coast plays host to a festival of Gnaoua and World Music. Normally it is held in June, but this year's 18th edition will take place - like many of the main Moroccan music festivals - in May, to avoid a clash with the holy month of Ramadan. The dates for this year's event are 14-17 May 2015. The principal feature of the festival is the celebration of Gnaoua music and rituals.
The Gnaoua movement is a form of Islamic Sufism. The roots of Gnaoua (or Gnawa) lie in sub-Saharan Africa and reflect pre-Islamic traditions. Successive Moorish sultans brought African slaves to Morocco and their traditions became integrated into Islamic Sufism.
Gnaoui (as practioners are known), like other Sufis, are organized into brotherhoods gathered around a Master, or maalem. These brotherhoods are based in a zawiya - a center of religious teaching, healing and practice found in towns and cities across Morocco. Sufis are known for their communion with God (Allah) through rituals such as music or dancing based on repetitive rhythms, known as samaa. The gnaoua hold spiritual events known as a lila, where the objective is for participants to reach a trance-like state of ecstasy to reach deeper spiritual knowledge. The lila rhythms and rituals are said to call up ancestral spirits to drive out evil and cure ills.
A typical instrument of the gnaoua is the gimbri, a three stringed bass lute covered in camel skin. The skin creates a deep reverberation, creating the soul-stirring basis of gnaoua music. The maalem typically plays the gimbri seated, singing the verse of a song (typically praising Allah or venerating a gnaoua saint). A chorus line of young adherents respond to his call while playing a percussive rhythm on the krakeb, iron castanets said to echo the sound of the slaves' chains. As their clackety-clack beats hasten, the rhythm reaches a crescendo and Gnaoui may enter a trace or break ranks to demonstrate acrobatic dancing and whirling. At the Gnaoua Festival in Essaouira, the audience has an opportunity to see both the brightly-colored, energetic spectacle of Gnaoua groups performing on large open-air stages (on Place Moulay Hassan and near the beach) as well as at more intimate concerts which simulate some of the atmosphere of a lila in smaller venues such as Dar Souiri or a zawiya.
The best venue for the late night, smaller, concerts is the Borj Bab Marrakech. Lying on rugs and cushions under the stars, within earshot of the waves crashing on the beach and with seagulls calling and swooping overhead, a special atmosphere is created for some of the best known artists on the program. As well as offering the opportunity to see the best of local Swiri gnaoua maalems and their groups, such as Tyour Gnaoua with Maalem Abdeslam Alikane, brothers Maalem Mokhtar and Maalem Mahmoud Guinea or Gnaoua rockstar Omar Hayat, the festival also an insight into the full diversity of Moroccan Sufi music - such as the more traditional and contemplative style of the Hmadcha of Essaouira; the drum-led beats of the Issaoua brotherhood from Fes, or the modern fusion style of Maalem Hamid el Kasri from Rabat. The festival program is interspersed with performances by international artists.
At the end of each evening on the main stage is the highlight - a fusion concert between one of these invited musicians and a Moroccan Sufi group. These spectacles are remarkable not only in their combination of musical genres and traditions, but also in the collaboration between artists of very different spiritual, religious and cultural traditions. Invited guests this year include Afrobeat veteran, Nigerian drummer Tony Allen; Guadeloupian percussionist, Sonny Troupé; the latter's sometime collaborator, US jazz saxophonist and flautist Kenny Garrett, and long-standing Gnaoua Festival supporter and collaborator, Franco-Algerian drummer Karim Ziad. Those seeking a sample of Morocco's diverse modern music scene, will want to catch Darga, a band from Casablanca playing a fusion of gnaoua, traditional and Western styles on the beach stage or Hindi Zahra, who has been compared to Norah Jones and Patti Smith, on the main stage.
The Festival opens with a spectacular parade of giant marionettes and all the participating Sufi groups on the Thursday afternoon. Seek out a position early on the main street through the medina from Bab Doukkala and get your camera in position! Alongside the main concert program are also events such as the Forum - a seminar series, this year about African Women - and the Arbre à Palabre discussions held at the French Institute. This year there will be a smaller stage with afternoon concerts at Bab el Minzeh near the port. The open air concerts (on Place Moulay Hassan, at Bab el Minzeh and at the beach) are all free, although they can get crowded at night. VIP passes for an enclosed area near the stage can be purchased on site. The intimate concerts are ticketed (for example, concerts on the roof of the Borj Bab Marrakech at 250 dirhams) and places are limited. Essaouira's range of festivals throughout the year (such as the Alizés Festival in April and the Andalusian Festival in the Fall) highlight the melting pot of musical and cultural influences that is Morocco, but the Gnaoua World Music Festival is unparalleled in its showcasing of gnaoua music in its original form as well as in fusion with a range of world music styles. If you are in Morocco this May, don't miss it!
For more information about Essaouira's 18th Annual Gnaoua Festival or an Essaouira Tour Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on March 25, 2015 at 9:15 AM||comments ()|
On Marrakech’s Djemaa El Fna Square amongst the orange juice stalls and story tellers you will find stalls with CD’s testifying to the popularity and importance of Morocco’s contemporary music scene which began with the accession of King Mohammed VI in 1999 when greater liberalization of musical genre especially for young people who sought music which reflected their aspirations was gradually phased in and supported with musical festivals organized with royal support and sponsorship like the annual Mazawine Music Festival in Rabat, The Gnawa Festival in Essaouria and the World Sacred Music Festival in Fez.
Moroccan TV and radio channels also play an important role with live performances. The Moroccan contemporary music scene and its festivals have successfully fused elements of its ancient Berber musical traditions with modern music such as Chaabi, Hiphop and Rai and Rap. Traditional Berber folk village music called Ahwash, is very much alive and is on display in July each year at the National Festival of Popular Arts at the Badii Palace in Marrakech. The music performed by professional musicians called Raiss includes comedy and dances in their performances.
Two famous traditional musical bands are Bachir Attar’s Master Musicians of Jajouka who originally met with Brian Jones and the Rolling Stones in 1969 and recorded with them. Their music celebrates the pagan rites centered on the figure of Boujeloud who has been likened to Pan. They perform regular concerts in Morocco and abroad including the United States and Germany playing with international musicians. They recently featured in Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown “ program on CNN. The other traditional band is the Daqqa of Marrakech who perform a ritual dance for the religious festival of Ashura. Chaabi is a popular music descended from Moroccan folk music. Originally performed in markets, it is now performed during celebrations or meetings. Chaabi songs end with a swift rhythmic section and syncopated clapping. Modern instruments like electric guitars and buzuks are also used as well as lutes and a drum.
Andalusian classical music called Al Ala was brought to Morocco following the Reconquista in Spain when Muslims and Jews were forced to leave. It is an urban form of music which is highly popular and performed with large orchestras frequently on TV and radio. Jewish musicians had a profound influence on Al Ala.
Gnawa was brought to Morocco by Sub-Saharan Africans and later became part of the Moroccan tradition. Much of the modern fusion draws on Gnawa and the annual Essaouira Gnawa Festival is now broadening its musical performances to include a more contemporary repertoire. Classical Malhum which translates as “gift” or “inspiration” is Arabic in origin and is derived from Sufi inspired Arabic Andalusian poetry.
Sufi Brotherhoods (tarikas) are widespread in Morocco, and music is an integral part of their spiritual tradition. The purpose is to induce a trance state which inspires mystical ecstasy. Leading Sufi Brotherhoods include the Derkoua, Hamadasha, Aissoua and the Jilala. Modern music includes Rai which is associated with Algeria in the international music scene, but Morocco has produced its own stars lincluding Cheb Mimoun and Hanino. Other genre include Hiphop, Electronica and Fusion, which draws on Gnawa, Jazz and heavy metal. Casablanca is a major center for contemporary Moroccan music. Pirating remains a concern for Moroccan musicians as it is difficult to establish copyright for music performances and CD’s, although Morocco has an intellectual property rights law. In Marrakech an English music producer Nick Wilde set up Marrakchi Records a record label, music publishing and artist management company to support young Moroccan musicians. Marrakchi Records provides a management service for Moroccan musicians and promotes them thus helping to establish them in the fast moving contemporary Moroccan music scene. It covers all genres from Rock, Hiphop, Electronic, gnawa , blues and African music. Artists who have successfully produced albums with Marrakchi Records include Caravane, Blue Medina, DJ Haze, Mwanssa, Chaabi and Nisrine. The Moroccan Music scene is vast and growing along with it's new pop up festivals and summer venues.
For more information about the Moroccan Music Scene or Festivals in Morocco
For more information about the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on March 17, 2015 at 8:25 AM||comments ()|
Morocco is well-known for extreme races. The marathon des sables - known as the 'toughest footrace on earth' is a grueling 156 miles (five and a half marathons) through the Sahara Desert in 100°F or more. The Trans-Atlas Marathon is a trail of approximately 177 miles in 6 stages at an elevation of up to 11,000 ft. But did you know that there are also vehicle rallies competing across some of Morocco's most challenging terrain? The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles is a women-only endurance rally across a course which is all off-road and redesigned every year. 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the Rally.
This year, it will bring together 185 teams of around 300 women aged 18-35 from 30 different countries. There are 10 teams competing from the USA alone. Their common denominator is determination and a commitment to the principles of the race, which are a respect for values of tolerance, solidarity and determination; for the host country and its people through the charitable activities associated with the race and for the environment. (The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles in Morocco is the only motor rally globally with the ISO 14001 certification).
The teams compete in 4x4, Crossover, Quad or truck vehicles or on motorbike. Auto company Daimler Benz Mercedes is competing with 4 teams - selected through competitions held in Germany. Each team may choose its own route - the team that drives the shortest distance wins. This means that the so-called Gazelles must reach pre-defined check points by driving the lowest number of kilometers. Eco-driving is encouraged and rewarded. This means making choices between fording rivers or finding bridges or driving around mountains or over them. Completion of the course takes skill and grit - as well as a compass, a navigational plotter and maps! The average day of competition is 10-13 hours long.
For the 25th edition, a new category of 'expert' has been introduced for previous competitors looking to compete in a car. Their terrain will be tougher, sandier and the route even more rugged! Since 2001, during the period of the race, the associated Cœur de Gazelles charity provides on average, 5000 medical consultations and around 7000 people receive donations of clothes, medicine or other needs. The Rally runs from 25 March - 2 April 2015. As the entire route is off-road, it is not always easy to view the competition, although in remote areas you may glimpse the helicopters which monitor the race and ensure safety. The Gazelles gather for a well-deserved rest and the prize-giving in Essaouira at the end of the race.
On 2 and 3 April, you can expect to see them arriving - exhausted and exhilarated- in the seaside town before the final event and prize presentation on 4 April. Registration has just closed for 2015, so if you like the idea of being a Gazelle, you have another year to prepare (and raise the sponsorship)! If that sounds a little too taxing for your vacation in Morocco, head to Essaouira at the start of April to toast their arrival at the end of the rally!
Written by Lynn Sheppard
Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients.
For more information about Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc or Travel in 4x4
Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate