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We can’t make it to Fez this year, so we’ll do the next best thing

We love the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music and, since we don’t have time to be there this year, we’ll be bringing you live coverage next month on Slipped Disc. Just to give a sample of what you’re missing in Morocco, Mary Finnigan previews the 2013 Festival below and Lynn Evans Davidson offers an exclusive Slipped Disc sample of last year’s highlights. There’s nothing like it on earth.

Performers: CLIP 1 Christian Boissel (piano and composition on poems of Divan del Tamarit and Federico Garcia Lorca sung by Rocio Marquez.
CLIP 2The Gipsy Sentimento Paganini Ensemble from Hungary – director of the group, Gyuszia Horváth.
CLIP 3Rocio Marquez singing acompanied by Boissel.
CLIP4 Lute player accompanying Sheikh Yasin al-Tuhani Egypt
CLIP 5  Mass of Guillaume Dufay – in collaboration with the MITO Settembre Music
CLIP 6 Sufi night at Dar Tazi
CLIP 7 Mory djely Kouyate and Jean-Phillippe Rykiel (piano) France-Guinea.
CLIP 8 Le cantique des cantiques and Hommage to Mahmoud Darwich by Rodolph Burger.)fez2

Fez 2013 by Mary Finnigan
The Fez Festival of World Sacred Music started in 1994 with a spiritual and humanitarian mission statement – devised as a counterpoint to the shock and horror of the First Gulf War. This view is rooted in Sufism which is also a counterpoint – to austere, bellicose jihadist Islam. This idealogical platform hasheld  steady ever since, while the variety of musical experience on offer has expanded and developed to the point today where the action happens several times a day, at six different venues in and around the Fez medina – the old city, still largely vehicle free and still largely a living and working environment for 1,000s of low income Moroccan families.

For the past three years the festival has commissioned new works for the gala opening night, usually attended by King Mohammed VII’s wife, Princess Lalla Salma – herself a Fassi (Fez born and bred). This year’s premiere is a poetry, dance and music spectacular created by the Spanish dance maestro Andres Marin. Titled Love is my Religion and performed by more than 30 Arab-Andalusian, Sufi, Berber and flamenco artists, it sets up the 2013 festival theme ‘Reflections of Andalusia.’ The show aims to evoke the highest ideals of Moorish Spain, where the three monotheistic religions co-existed in harmony and the culture was inspired by the quest for mystical love.

Another ambitious inter-cultural musical adventure takes place the following day in the intimate surroundings of the Batha Museum gardens. Nomadic voices from the steppes of Mongolia join with polyphony from the mountains of Sardinia. The performance is described as “somewhere between liturgy and peasant celebration”.

Other highlights include the American poet-rock diva Patti Smith, Spanish guitar virtuoso Paco de Lucia, fado star Ana Moura and El Gusto from Algeria – a happy-clappy Judeo-Arab-Andalusion ensemble which will also celebrate the sacred in a programme specially chosen for the Fez festival.

The 19th Fes Festival of World Sacred Music runs from 7-15 June. Online ticket sales, travel and hotel information are at For boutique guest house accommodation in the Fez medina go

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