Fez’s flagship cultural event, The International Festival of Sacred Music is celebrating its eighteenth anniversary this year. Preparations are well underway to make this version unforgettable. ANSAmed has an article on what to expect this time around.
“Enchanting the world once more” is the slogan for the upcoming International Festival of Sacred Music in Fez, in Morocco, one of the world’s most important cultural events, now in its 18th year. The festival, an exceptional meeting place for different civilizations, has been presented by its organisers in Rome today.
From June 8 to 16, the riad and the alleys of the old medina of Morocco’s former imperial capital will be the setting for a series of shows and events including the chants of Egyptian mystics and Pakistani Sufis, orchestras from Hungary and Italy, Berber rappers, gypsy and Occitan music, soul and blues by western stars of the caliber of Archie Shepp and Joan Baez and some of the leading modern Jewish and Muslim singers and poets.
Since its birth, during the Gulf War and amid early prophecies of an inevitable clash of civilisations between the West and the Muslim world, the festival has been “a challenge”, a form of “intellectual resistance”, the event’s president and founder, Faouzi Skali, tells ANSAmed. “The Festival shows how much West and East, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have in common, in spite of efforts by those who want to put up barriers and dig trenches,” Skali says.
“The city of Fez is an example of shared memory, with its significant Andalusian and Sicilian elements”.
Every June, Fez takes up a role that it held for centuries, that of a tolerant capital open to the world. Gerbert d’Aurillac studied here before becoming Pope Silvester II and introducing Arab numbers to Europe, while the Jewish philosopher and physicist Maimonides also taught in the city.
The festival renews its links with the old climate of understanding and intellectual fervor. “We want to recount the inner beauty of every culture,” Skali says.
Since its conception, the event in Fez has had an extraordinary success. In 2001, the UN singled it out as one of the most important events for dialogue between different civilizations. New York, Milan, London and Madrid are interested in bringing about some form of twinning. The “spirit of Fez” has now entered the common parlance. “It is no co-incidence that this year’s edition is dedicated to the great eleventh century Persian poet, Omar Khayyam, a Sufi mystic who preached the joy and importance of living every moment of life, and was against the cynical and immoral policy of power and against ideological fundamentalism,” Skali says. “His message is as valid today as it was then”.