Friday, October 24, 2014

Moroccan Sufi Brotherhood To Star in Australia

In Australia on Saturday it was announced that the Fez Hamadcha Sufi Brotherhood have been booked for two major festivals in Australia. It will be the first time that a Moroccan Sufi Brotherhood will have performed in the antipodes
The Fez Hamadcha - Australia bound

The Fez Hamadcha will perform a number of ceremonies at the Woodford Festival in Queensland between December 27th and January the 1st and then journey to Sydney where they are one of the highlights of the prestigious Sydney Festival in January.

The Woodford Festival runs for seven days and is attended by up to 130,000 visitors.

Woodford Festival - the Hamadcha can expect huge audiences

Festival Director, Bill Hauritz, told The View from Fez that he was excited by the prospect. "To have a genuine traditional Sufi Brotherhood appear at our Festival is a great honour and something we have been looking forward to for some years." Director Hauritz visited the Fez Medina earlier this year to begin the negotiations for the visit. There has also been support for the visit from the Moroccan Ambassador in Australia and The View from Fez in Morocco.

Abderrahim Amrani Marrakchi, the leader of the Brotherhood (pictured above), will be joined in Australia by six members of the Brotherhood that, despite its name, also includes two women; the singer Faith Barker and specialist Hadra (trance) dancer, Rachida El Jokh.

Another Hamadcha member, Frédéric Calmès, explained that for some in the Brotherhood the trip would also be their first experience of air travel. "However, the most important thing is that it is yet another chance to share a living tradition that dates back to the seventeenth century".

Along with the Gnawa and the Aïssawa, the Hamadcha are one of the three most important Sufi brotherhoods in Morocco. The Hamadcha brotherhood was founded by Saint Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch in the seventeenth century, and has become famous through the originality of its repertoire, its spellbinding dances, and the trance-therapy skills of its members.

The Hamadcha’s rhythmic and melodic modes are extremely complex, and like their musical instruments, are found only within the brotherhood. A large part of the repertoire of the Gnawa and the Aïssawa is borrowed from the Hamadcha and is named “El Hamdouchiyya”. This amazing music is played during a ritual that dates back several centuries and which mixes praise to the founding Saint and leads into trance dancing.

The Hamadcha ritual, like that of the Gnawa, has a therapeutic function. The Hamadcha have for a long time been regarded as expert therapists, and Moroccans looked to them for help because of their knowledge of “medicine of the mind”.

The Hamadcha rehearse in Fez

The Hamadcha of Fez, led by the master Abderrahim Amrani Marrakchi, distinguish themselves by their will to preserve the brotherhood from a possible disappearance. Their thorough knowledge of the repertoire and their remarkable musical skills make them the most renowned and valued Hamadcha of Morocco. They have performed on many occasions, for recordings and at festivals of traditional music.

Speaking to The View from Fez Abderrahim Amrani Marrakchi said that the appearances in Australia are a wonderful opportunity to share the Hamadcha traditions "It is also an exciting chance for our members to experience a fascinating country that most of us have only dreamed of visiting."

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Daylight Saving Ends in Morocco Sunday October 26

Once again it is time to change your clocks and watches

26 Oct 2014 - Daylight Saving Time Ends

Sunday, 26 October 2014, 03:00:00 clocks are turned backward 1 hour to Sunday, 26 October 2014, 02:00:00 local standard time

Sunrise and sunset will be about 1 hour earlier on 26 Oct 2014 than the day before. There will be more light in the morning.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Free Concert in Fez: Ykeda Duo

Tonight, Saturday October 18 at 7 PM, is a free concert by renowned pianists, Ykeda Duo. Their program includes Ravel, Smetana, Chabrier, Brams, Saint-Saens and Dvorak
Tamayo Ikeda is the winner of numerous international awards, including the prestigious Francis Poulenc in 1999. Together with her partner, French pianist Patrick Zygmanowski, the Ykeda Duo has become a key representative of the repertoire of four hand piano.

Having mastered Japanese, Patrick is a permanent guest professor at the College of Music in Osaka, while Tamayo has joined Patrick in his native Gironde as the joint artistic director of the Festival des Musiques in the Entre-Deux-Mers region.

They perform at major venues such as the Salle Cortot in Paris, Tokyo’s Bunka Kaikan and New York’s Carnegie Hall. Their numerous tours have taken them to Indonesia, North America, Japan, South Africa, Morocco, and Eastern Europe, where audiences “love their acrobatic feats on the keyboard, their humor, the sheer showmanship of these piano jousts, and the superhuman perfection of their performances” (Arièle Butaux).

When: Saturday October 18 at 7 PM
Where: Institute Français, Dar Batha, Fez Medina
Cost: Free

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Festival of Sufi Culture in Fez 2015

The 9th Festival of Sufi Culture will be held in Fez from April 18 - 25, 2015 

The theme of next year's Festival of Sufi Culture will be a celebration of master poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, who greatly influenced Sufism. "We are developing a rich artistic and scientific program around the theme of Rumi: the religion of love, " says festival director Faouzi Skali.

Having recently left the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, Mr Skali is in full swing organising next year's Festival of Sufi Culture and has recently travelled to Paris, Berlin, Porto and Konya to select performers and promote the festival.

Rumi was closely associated to "whirling dervishes" or Mevlevi, a major Sufi order of Islam, which he founded in the city of Konya in Turkey. Next year's Festival of Sufi Culture will include the popular whirling dervishes and ensembles of traditional music from Iran.

As well as the rich musical offerings, the forum will discuss Rumi's life and thoughts, many of which encapsulate the true values ​​of Islam: tolerance, respect, and love. Rumi's concepts are particularly relevant in today's tense geo-political climate, especially those aspiring to intercultural and religious harmony.

Next year's festival will have an increased budget of 5 million dirhams, promising an expanded event from that held in 2014.

The program will be released on

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Friday, October 17, 2014

New Initiative for the Fez Environment

UPDATE: Fez Environment Club first meeting on November 1 at 5 PM

The ALIF-ALC Environment Club will have its first meeting on Saturday, November 1 at 5 PM at ALIF Riad in the Fez Medina.

The Club is the brainchild of photographer Omar Chennafi, who wants to bring awareness to local and global environmental issues and reinforce community appreciation of the environment. "People need to take more responsibility for their environment," he says. "The Fez Medina is a mediaeval city; it's not like a new city, it has different needs. It used to be more of a self-managing system, and now that has broken down."

Meeting twice a month, the Club will operate on a project-by-project basis. It's hosted by the American Language Center, but is open to anyone interested in participating.

"The first meeting will be a good chance for newcomers to get to know the ALIF-ALC Environment Club - our vision, goals and to talk about future projects," says Omar.

Some ideas for possible activities include showing environmental films, collaborating with schools to create things like murals with a "green" theme, gardens and composting; environmentally focussed field trips; conducting waste audits and initiating recycling blitzes.

When: Saturday October 18 at 5 PM
Where: ALIF Riad,
Info: Omar Chennafi on 0659661502

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Moroccan Photo Essay: Tissa Horse Festival 2014

Our Moroccan photo essay of this year's Tissa Horse Festival is by John Horniblow, whose photographic work has been widely published, including in Time and National Geographic. He is the editor and publisher of Photojournale 

Every year in October a spectacular event is held in the small north Moroccan town of Tissa. Celebrated in remembrance of Sidi Muhammed Ben Lachen, a fifteenth century patron saint, the Tissa Horse Festival attracts hundreds of horse breeders and horse owners. They come to show off their beautifully groomed thoroughbreds, which are put through their paces in displays of remarkable horsemanship, echoing skills used in inter-tribal wars of previous centuries.

The horses that are brought here are of the finest breeding and include Arab-Berbers, Arab stallions and Barbary mares. Riders get the opportunity to display their horse’s capabilities in different events, exhibiting qualities such as grace, speed, manoeuvrability and endurance. Onlookers watch as lines of riders charge towards a fence at full belt, before pulling up suddenly and discharging their muskets.

All photos copyright John Horniblow. 

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