For the past 18 years, the city of Fez, Morocco, has put on the Festival of World Sacred Music, dedicated to the traditions of knowledge, art and spirituality of the city. It began as a peace initiative following the first Gulf War but has since become an established part of the world music and art scene. This year’s event runs from June 8-16 at different venues in the city of Fez. The theme is “Re-enchanting the World,” and pays tribute to Persian poet Omar Khayyam.
Acts from around the world converge on Fez along with thousands of attendees there to pay homage to sacred music from around the globe. There is a heavy focus on Sufi music, however, music from all over the globe is represented. This year’s acts hail Hungary, Romania, Central Europe, Lebanon, Tunisia, India, Cuba, Pakistan, Iceland, Iran, Guinea, France, Morocco and the United States. Along with musical acts there are several poetry readings, poetry set to music and dancing troupes.
The 2012 event starts with the opening concert that features artists from around the world to “re-enchant” the poems of Omar Khayyam. Every day has fantastic acts that will be occurring at one of the following locations: in the medina, the Batha Museum, Bab al Makina, Dar Mokhi or Dar Adyel. Performances are in the evenings beginning at 4:00 p.m. and are scattered throughout the night at each of the venues.
This year’s “headline” artists are the Icelandic singer, Bjork, who achieved musical success in the 1990s and has transformed with her latest album Biophilia, a project that combines music with technological innovation and the themes of science and nature. Also headlining is Joan Baez, American folk singer, songwriter and activist. Joan’s work spans nearly seven decades and she is well known not only for her music but for her work with social justice issues.
If your journey finds you in Morocco for this festival, be prepared. Reservations for accommodations should be made well ahead of time and tickets purchased before attending. Transportation into and around the city will likely be more crowded than normal. While it’s possible to show up in Fez during this time and find lodging and tickets, it’s best to plan ahead as early as possible. That said, this festival truly is a uniting of cultures, religions and people from around the world for one common purpose, and there’s no price tag that can be put on an experience like that.
Written by Amanda Mouttaki.
Photo by josh.weiss.