Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi dies aged 95

Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi, the head of one of Morocco's biggest Sufi orders, died today aged 95

Sheikh Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi was the spiritual leader of the Qadirriyya Boutchichiyya Sufi order which has tens of thousands of followers in Morocco and abroad, and which he had been leading since 1972.

The Qadiri order's origins go back to Abd al Qadir al-Jilani(1083–1166) which become very important a few decades later with his descendants. The Boutchichi branch of this order came into being in the eighteenth century in the North-west of Morocco. Its headquarters principal zaouia is in the small village of Meddagh near Berkane but Sidi Hamza himself has built another zaouia near Naima in the province of Oujda

Sheikh Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi died in the northwestern city of Oujda and will be buried in the nearby town of Madagh on Thursday. He named his eldest son, Sidi Jamal, to succeed him, according to a spokesman of the brotherhood, Mounir Al Buchichi.

Seen as a "living master" by his followers and famed for his wisdom and kindness, Hamza was believed to be descended from the Prophet Mohammed and belonged to a long line of Sufi leaders. Visitors came from across the world to hear him teach, and every year hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gather in Madagh to celebrate Mawlid, the Prophet Mohammed's birthday.

With hundreds of millions of followers around the world, Sufism permeates popular culture in many countries, especially in Morocco. The French rapper Abd al-Malik is one of the Boutchichiyya followers and sang the Sheikh's praises in his album "Gibraltar".

Sufism is the "heart" of Islam, its spiritual path, an initiatory path of inner transformation where self-knowledge leads to that of the other and to that of God.

For the Sufis, God is both near and inaccessible. It is a hidden treasure whose sign is found at the heart of all beings. Guided by a master, the Sufi student wants to rediscover this divine reality, to forget his ego to get lost in the love of God.

Sufis spend time studying the Quran, chanting and dancing to enter a spiritual trance.

With hundreds of millions of followers across the world, Sufism has deep roots in popular culture in Morocco and across West Africa.

Various Sufi orders are active in Turkey, the Middle East and Central Asia. However, followers of hardline Salafist and Wahhabist interpretations of Islam see Sufism as heretical.


Moroccan Weather - Temperatures Plunge

According to a special bulletin from the Moroccan weather office the cold snap will continue and the mercury will drop even further during the next 72 hours

Temperatures will fall to -11 ° in the provinces of Midelt, Tinghir, Azilal, Al Haouz, Beni Mellal, Boulemane and Ifrane. Elsewhere minimum temperatures will fluctuate between 0 ° and 6 °.

With the cold wave, heavy snow falls are expected on Thursday and Friday in several regions of Morocco.

In its bulletin the national meteorology office indicated that these falls will impact the provinces of Al Haouz, Azilal, Beni Mellal, Midelt, Khenifra, Ifrane, Sefrou, Boulemane and Taza. Low to moderate snowfall will also affect the eastern regions (Jerada, Figuig, Guercif and Taourirt), the Rif (Al Hoceima, Taounate and Chefchaouen) and the El Hajeb region.

Snow in Kenifra

For its part, the north will experience rain showers that can be locally strong in the provinces of Fahs Anjra, Medieq-Fnideq and Tangier from Wednesday to Thursday.

Temperatures in Fez over the next few days will range between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius.


Burqa Cross-Dressing Arrests

On Monday police in a village near Sidi Bibi in the southern province of Chtouka, arrested two men wearing burqas in public. At present there is no explanation of why the men were wearing female clothing

The police, who searched the house of the two men, found more burqas and ascertained that no women lived in the house. A judicial source said that the men wore the burqas so as not to be identified. A police investigation has begun by the Chtouka gendarmerie to determine the reasons why the two men had taken to wearing this Afghan style clothing in this region of Souss.

It is understood that the other villagers believed that the two men were actually women who covered themselves from head to foot out of modesty and respect for the precepts of Islam.

It is interesting that these arrests come on the heels of the government move to ban the sale and manufacture of the burqa in Morocco (see story here)


Fes Festival's New Director General

Platon Alexis Hadjimichalis, eco-artist, naturo-plastician, and ex-ambassador is the new Director General of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. With a history of diplomacy and art, he makes an interesting choice

Platon-Alexis Hadjimichalis was born in Paris in 1950. He comes from a three generations artistic family and was brought up in French and Greek cultural and intellectual milieus.

In the circles where his parents (an architect and an archaeologist) moved in, he grew up among artists of different nationalities who were living and working in Paris and Athens between 1950 and 1970. All these people surrounded Platon H. from an early age with their ideas and creativity, shaping his personality and art. Without him realising it at the time, they were his teachers along with his father who taught him how to ‘use his hands’ and made him familiar with construction and building materials. As a regular visitor to the French Archaeological School in Greece he became familiar with ancient walls assemblage, mosaics, floors and with aesthetics in general.

Platon-Alexis Hadjimichalis started painting in the ’70s, very much influenced by Francois Morellet and Vasarely.

In parallel with his work as a Greek civil servant, Platon-Alexis Hadjimichalis started creating organic surfaces in the 1980’s, inspired by Normandy’s seaweeds after a low tide.

He was the Greek Ambassador to Morocco for three years and resigned last April.

He makes a welcome addition to the Fes Festival team.

The View From Fez is an official Media Partner of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music


23rd Fes Festival of World Sacred Music Programme

The 23rd Fes Festival of World Sacred Music takes place between the 12th and 20th of May. This year's theme is Water and the Sacred

The provisional programme details have just been released and translated into English thanks to Helen Ranger.

We have made from water every living thing. Surah 21, verse 30

Provisional Programme

FRIDAY 12 MAY - Bab al Makina - Tales of Water

The opening night creation on the theme of water will be a look at water from both an ecological and spiritual perspective.

It is from sources that were built the great founding cities like Fez that will be the starting point of the show. The fountain gives purifying water from the spring.

Each fountain in Fes will be the beginning of a story and a different fable that will take us across oceans, rivers, mountain springs. Between references to the Bible, the Koran and Sufism, the great founding myths will help us to understand the importance of respect for water and nature for the future of the earth.

The ocean and the rivers will be evoked in Amerindian traditions, the Caribbean and South America as well as in the origin of Fez as a refined system of irrigation.
"In the Maghreb, the well-known Aïsha Kandisha, a giant djinn who protects lovers, haunts rivers ready to lure the solitary wanderer or lost shepherd to her nocturnal beauty. In Fes, she is hidden within the waters of Oued El Jawahir (River of Pearls) which runs on the outskirts of the medina, under the bridge at Place de la Noriah, just behind Bab al Makina. In this place, inhabitants talk of a mystical dimension, leaving offerings of candles, bread, and a slaughtered black cockerel to appease the djinn" - Artistic Director Alain Weber
Once again the show will employ sophisticated mapping and other scenographic techniques

The staging will be contemporary, more abstract, more organic! There will be a large orchestra and music of different traditions in a spirit of onomatopoeia, aquatic and apocalyptic dreams, water noises, torrents and whale songs.

Direction and conception: Alain Weber,
Creation lights: Christophe Olivier, assisted by Gaël Boucault
Spectacular (Image Mapping): Image Lighters
Direction, composition and arrangement for orchestra: Ramzi Aburedwan


16.00 Jnan Sbil Gardens -  Marc Vella - Piano

19.00 Riad Dar Bensouda - Lingling Yu - China - Pipa lute

21.00 Bab al Makina Beijing Opera China

Beijing Opera

22.00 Cinema Boujloud - Bel Leil al Zaman – Nile Café in collaboration with the French Institute in Fes. A tribute to the Baladi culture of the Nile: the traditions of the Nile and Upper Egypt, for children and adults.

In a small café in a village near Luxor, amid the crickets and the festive lights of saint’s days, we discover one of the most popular traditons of the Arab world.

23.00 Dar Pacha Tazi Sufi Night


14.00 Dar Batha Workshop with Marc Vella
Musical training or not, this workshop encourages freedom of expression to attain harmony in your life.

16.30 Jnan Sbil Marlui Miranda
The riches of the Amerinidian continent are evoked by its oceans and rivers. Marlui Miranda’s voice and her Indian flutes express the nobility of Amazonian nature.

21.00 Bab al Makina Songhaï with Toumani Diabaté
Songhaï returns: this is a musical collaboration between the Spanish flamenco group Ketama and Malian Mandinka music, featuring Javier Colina, José Miguel Carmona and Toumani Diabaté.  A splendid encounter combining the flame of flamenco and the dexterity of Mandingo music

Toumani Diabaté

Songhai, musical collaboration between the Spanish flamenco group Ketama and the great Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté will give birth to two mythical albums, Songhai (1988) and Songhai (1994), both co-produced by English producer Joe Boyd.

Ketama, is a leading contemporary flamenco ensemble, Toumani Diabate, a member of one of the most renowned griot families in Mali, famous for its kora game and rich and modern interpretations, was originally with Danny Thompson, a former member of Pentangle, once the pillar of English folk.

22.00 Cinema Boujloud  - Nile Café

23.00 Dar Pacha Tazi - Sufi Night


16.30 Jnan Sbil Gardens Salman el Ammari -  Kuwait - The Art of the Sea Singer and oud player: the pearl fishers


19.00 and at 22.00 - Dar Adiyel - Musical Lecture A Marriage of Pleasure, by Tahar Ben Jelloun, in the presence of the author selected texts read by Nicolas Pignon with music by Driss Al-Maloumi and his ensemble.

20.30 Prefecture Hall, Batha -  Eric Bibb USA - Origin of the Blues

Eric Bibb

Eric Bibb is an American-born acoustic blues singer-songwriter. He moved to Europe in 1970 and currently resides in Helsinki, Finland, together with his Finnish wife and tour manager Sari Matinlassi-Bibb whom he met while touring Australia.

22.00 Sidi Mohammed Ben Híbridos - Youssef Cultural Complex Film screening presented by Vincent Moon and Priscilla Telmon: Brazilian rituals for the gods.

22.00 Cinema Boujloud Nile Café

23.00 Dar Pacha Tazi Sufi Night


16.30 Jnan Sbil Gardens Stelios Petrakis Quartet - The Art of the Cretan Lyra
Cretan music, with Turkish influences that came after the island became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1669.  The concert features the lyra, a three-stringed fiddle, and the laouto or Cretan lute.


20.30 Prefecture Hall, Batha Lankum Ireland - Ian and Daragh Lynch with Uillean pipes, concertina, Russian accordion, violin and guitar with a traditional repertoire full of the spirit of the Travellers.

22.00  -  Sidi Mohamed Ben Youssef Cultural Complex - Sidi Mohamed Ben -  Is’Arestes and Urtzu Pretistu -Ancient Village Rites of Sordogno in Sardinia - Life, death and rebirth: incantations and masked dance dating from pagan times

22.00 Dar Adiyel - Taziri - With Titi Robin on bouzouki, guitar and oud, and Mehdi Nassouli on guembri, percussion and voice playing Mediterranean Blues


22.00 Cinema Boujloud Nile Café

23.00 Dar Pacha Tazi Sufi Night



18.30 Dar Adiyel - Mchouga-Maboul - Theatrical tales by Simon Elbaz
Tales from a village on the eve of independence with Jewish, Muslim and Christians from the golden age of multi-cultural Andalousia.

20h00 Prefecture Hall, Batha -Yasmine Hamdan -  Lebanon - An elegant mix of electro-folk-Arab pop

22.00 Sidi Mohamed Ben Youssef Cultural Complex  Dedales - A cinematographic vision of the lanes and fountains of the fes Medina by Vincent Moon and Priscilla Telmon, accompanied by the Hamadcha of Fes directed by Abderrahim Amrani.

Fez Hamadcha Sufi Brotherhood

22.00 Cinema Boujloud Nile Café

23.00 Dar Pacha Tazi Sufi Night


16.30 Jnan Sbil Gardens - Resonance - With Samuel Cattiau (countertenor) and Pelva Naïk, and Quentin Dujardin on guitar performing songs of minstrels and troubadours of 17th and 18th centuries, leading us on to the banks of the Ganges with Indian musicians.

18.00 Palais Amani Claire Zalamansky - Ay Petenera! - Sephardic and gypsy songs

21.00 Bab al Makina
1st part: Poeta en el Mar - Devised by the great flamenco guitarist Vicente Amigo with symphonic orchestra.
2nd part: Badr Rami Syria, Morocco - Classical Arab music including traditional songs of Aleppo

Badr Rami

Badr Rami was born into a musical family in Morocco to Syrian parents. He is a bit of a legend in Morocco, and a good introduction for those unfamiliar with the Syrian Muwashshah genre, - texts of a particular Arabic poetic form set to music - this will be his third visit to the Fez Festival.

23.00 Dar Pacha Tazi Sufi Night


16.30 Jnan Sbil Gardens Barbary Violins - With Epi the Mongolian, Morin Khuur on fiddle, Bulgarian Dimitar Gougov (voice and gadulka fiddle) and Frenchman Fabien Guyot on percussion.
World folk, Kazakh blues, Mongolian overtone singing and electric rock!

The popular Epi the Mongolian

18.00 Dar Batha - Matrouz - In collaboration with the French Institute in Fes - Film screening: Matrouz by Simon Elbaz. On the oral tradition of the Jewish Maghreb in French, Latin and Jewish-Spanish features Arabo-Andalous, Jewish Arab and eastern musical inspirations.

21.00 Bab al Makina Gospel Night


16.30 Jnan Sbil Gardens Aziz Sahmaoui Morocco, Cuba - Cuban Project - With Harold Lopez-Nussa on piano and music from African Gnawa to Orisha ritual.

21.00 Bab al Makina - Majida Al-Roumi from Lebanon is considered the greatest Arab singer of our time, after the fashion of Oum Kalsoum.

Majida Al-Roumi

23.00 Dar Pacha Tazi - Sufi Night

More details to follow, including free evening concerts at Boujloud Square. Tickets and passes are not yet on sale, but people can order through Fez Riads and they get free delivery if they're staying in the Medina. Contact: Fez Riads

The View From Fez is an official Media Partner of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music