Since its inception, the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music has promoted universality and a spirit of tolerance and openness. Each year, we pay homage to these principles through music and poetry to convey empathy, sharing and knowledge.
Both a worldly city and a spiritual melting pot, Fes reinforces the cultural and intellectual dimension of the Kingdom of Morocco by staging this special event with its strong theme, where the sacred is enhanced by multicultural expression.
Honoured to have as Patron HM King Mohammed VI, this 21st edition of the Festival commemorates the African cultural dimension of the city of Fes. Radiating out towards sub-Saharan Africa, the long history of Fes ties it to the Sahara and beyond. Over the centuries, Fes became the commercial hub at the extremity of one of the greatest trade routes that crossed the Sahara, linking the historic ‘road of kings’ circuit from Niger to Morocco via the Touât in central Algeria, the Tafilalet and the Talghemt pass, both in the southeast of Morocco.
This flow of both merchandise and people across the desert expanse allowed for the transmission of ideas, manuscripts, social conduct and understanding of previously unknown magnitude. Traditions in clothing, eating habits and architectural styles that were part of the reputation of Fes spread from one side of the Sahara to the other; likewise, books fed the debate between Sufi masters on each side of the desert. More than the trading of goods, though, it was the intermingling of cultures and traditions that was of great import at this time. Sidi Ahmed Tijani and Hassan Al Wazzan, also known as Leo the African, are emblematic of people through whom the memory of this interface has been transmitted through the generations up to the present day. For nine days from 22 to 30 May 2015, the magic of the sacred will once again be presented. Each evening, music and light will fill the city with heart and spirit, inexorably reinforcing the universal dimension of Fes. An exceptionally rich and varied programme includes great African and international artists who will celebrate this symbiosis of Fez and Africa. The opening concert on 22 May pays tribute to this African dimension with a special composition featuring a number of artists:
Ballaké Sissoko and the Kora Ensemble of Bamako – Mali
Cape Philharmonic Youth String Quintet – South Africa
Masks of the Moon – Burkina Faso
Doudou Ndiaye Rose Children’s Group and the Simb Lion Dance – Senegal
Coumbane Mint Amartichitt – the art of the griot – Mauritania
Chérifa – Tamazight song from the Middle Atlas – Morocco
Malick Sow, Tijani master from Tivouane – Senegal
Babani Koné, Mandinka song – Mali
With unique staging, the Bab Makina gate appears as the door to a medersa in Timbuktu, a Hausa fortress, a Tijani zaouia, the Karaouiyine mosque and a Bedouin camp.
Many other artists will participate in the Festival:
Oumou Sangaré, the great diva from Mali; Tiken Jah Fakoly from Ivory Coast, well-known singer of African reggae; Ballaké Sissoko, the Malian master of the kora; Doudou Ndiaye Rose and his children’s group from Senegal; from the Arab world, Hussein El Jasmi, great star of the United Arab Emirates; the legendary Temptations from the USA, masters of rhythm and blues, and many more.
The Forum takes place over four mornings of the Festival and tackles questions pertaining to Africa. Many great thinkers and philosophers participate.
With its Fes Festival and Forum, Morocco continues in its privileged role as a centre for reflection, artistic and spiritual development, and as the crossroads where world cultures engage.
We look forward to welcoming you.
President, Spirit of Fes Foundation & Fes Festival of World Sacred Music