Tag Archives: music

Best 2015 Festivals in Morocco

Gnaoua Festival in EssaouiraMorocco has become a major festival destination over the last years. 2015 looks like a bumper year. The way Ramadan has pushed some of the dates together means that on one trip, you could fit in even two festivals. From music to culture, from roses to rap, from modern pop music to sufis, from the trance of Gnaoua to the German classical composers, from Agadir to Rabat via Fes and Essaouira, there’s something for everyone! Check out my list of the best 2015 festivals in Morocco here.

Springtime in Morocco

Ait Baha: Taroudant to Tafraoute Spring has well and truly sprung in Morocco! The days are warmer and longer and it’s the perfect time to visit.

If you haven’t planned your Springtime in Morocco, there are still deals to be had. Don’t forget, flights from London to Essaouira begin on 1 May.

Take a look at my post for Travel Exploration for some spring holiday ideas!

Fes Sacred Music Festival 2015

Fes Festival of Sacred Music 2015

Photo source: www.fez-riads.com

The ancient city of Fes (or Fez) is Morocco’s spiritual heart. It beats to the rhythm of hammers on metal, hooves on cobbles, hands on drums and feet in vats of dye (in the world famous tanneries). Every year, the heart of Fes also beats to a diverse and global range of music and song as it celebrates the annual Fes Sacred Music Festival. The 21st edition takes place between 22-30 May 2015 and the line-up makes for an unmissable event!

Read my post about the 21st edition of the Fes Sacred Music Festival here.

The provisional programme is here.

Andalusian Music: A Bridge Between Muslim and Jewish Heritage

Sanaa Maharati and the Tetouan Orchestra at the Essaouira Andalousies Festival

Sanaa Maharati and the Tetouan Orchestra at the Essaouira Andalousies Festival

Every year in autumn, Moroccan Jewish diaspora, music lovers and cultural enthusiasts gather in the southern Moroccan coastal town of Essaouira for the Festival des Andalousies Atlantiques (Atlantic Andalucía Festival). The town is much better known among fans of World Music for its Gnaoua Festival in June. However, ‘Les Andalousies,’ as locals call it, highlights a completely different facet of the multicultural heritage of the town formerly known as Mogador. And from this small port town emanates a message for the world.

Read the full article which I wrote for Morocco World News here.

Modernity and tradition: Hamid el Kasri and Hmadcha at the Gnaoua Festival

Hamid el Kasri at Gnaoua FestivalThe Essaouira Gnaoua World Music Festival has come a long way in its 17 editions. Conceived as a means to bring gnaoua music to a broader audience, the ensuing popularity has also given artists and brotherhoods the confidence to perform their art in a more accessible way; to bring more of the spectacle to a lay audience. It has also provided a vehicle for artists to get out of the zawiyas, to work with Moroccan and international artists and develop in new directions.

The roots of Gnaoua music lie deep in Africa. What we now recognize as the gnaoua tradition was brought to Morocco by sub-Saharan Africans who were slaves to the sultans of North Africa. The gnaoui combine West African pre-Islamic elements with Islamic worship and practice in a manner representative of the melting pot that is Morocco. The hypnotic beats are reminiscent of West African tribal rhythms, yet the call and response chants are entirely Islamic. This is Moroccan Sufism, where practitioners in the zawiya (the ritual home of the sufi sect) use the media of music, dance, poetry and trance to evoke and praise their God, Allah. 

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Zawiya Hamdouchia, Essaouira

the entrance to Zawiya Hamdouchia

the entrance to Zawiya Hamdouchia

The Gnaoua World Music Festival is well known worldwide as a celebration of gnaoua music and culture in Essaouira, Morocco. However, once the tourists and world music fans had returned home, it was an unexpected pleasure this winter to discover the Zawiya Hamdouchia in a back street of the Essaouira medina where religious adherents were practicing ancient ceremonies and celebrating their religion through music with equal fervour but much less of the pomp and colour of the Festival. Continue reading

Crouching gnaoui; hidden maalem

gnaoui acrobatics

gnaoui acrobatics

The cry of the seagulls swells.  The gulls are ever-present – they swarm in off the Atlantic when the water is rough; they clamour around the fishermen as they land and gut their catch.  Tonight, however, a different flock has flown across the seas to Essaouira.  World music fans, dreadlocked nouveau hippies and the shabab (youth) of the Moroccan cities and diaspora have come to the coast to participate in a centuries old tradition from the desert – the music and rituals of the Gnawa (Gnaoua).

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