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An angel sings in Arabic … and Aramaic

Midweek in the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music, the temperature is rising. Here’s Mary Finnigan’s daily report from the World Sacred Music Festival at Fez.  Photos (c) Suzie Maeder/Lebrecht Music&Arts. Video (c) Lynn Evans Davidson. Enjoy.


The young and beautiful Lebanese diva, Abeer Nehme, is blessed with the voice of an angel and a natural charm that occasionally borders on shyness. Abeer is totally endearing and she had the audience spellbound from the moment she stepped on stage. Her programme was rooted in the religious traditions of the Middle East. She sang in Arabic, Syriac and Aramaic and she explained in French how each language has its own musical notation. At times the musical tone was set by the Middle eastern kanoun – a type of zither – and at times by an electric organ that gave me a strangely displaced sensation – it sounded more like being in church than being in Fes.

june libann


Monday was the first of three Nights in the Medina, when short performances are staged in three locations at different times, so visitors can walk from one to the other through the narrow, atmospheric alleyways of the medina. I went to hear Pandit Shyam Sundar Goswami sing two intricate rags at Dar Adiyel. Suzie Maeder went to the Batha Museum to hear a Sufi performance based in a spiritual ceremony from a village in upper Egypt. The programme combined ecstatic music with filmed images and ritual dance and was designed to generate altered states — Sufi terms Union with the Divine.


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