Fes Festival of World Sacred Music

22nd edition: 6-14 May 2016

fest 16 

Scroll down past the programme to find out more about seating and tickets. This is the full programme with the exception of Forum mornings and Sufi Nights – these will be added as soon as they become available.


Provisional Programme

Women Founders


Friday 6 May

21.00 Bab Al Makina   A seats: €60; B seats: €30

A Sky Full of Stars – international premiere

Wise women, mystical women, poets and enchantresses twinkle like stars in the Milky Way, revealed in this show as a song. Founders not only of Islam but of other ancient cultures, the women of the Orient lead us on a journey of discovery into the history of Morocco and into the myths of the East.

As night falls, it is the mystical Sheherazade of Oriental tales who carries us from one world to another, from one sky to the next. She embodies the wisdom at the very source of imagination, the true art of the dream.

Sheherazade is a bold, resolute and cultivated woman who has mastered the knowledge of her time: history, literature, poetry and politics. To save the women of the kingdom, she risks her own life by joining the harem of King Chahryâr, a damaged man who has become vindictive. Sheherazade’s tears are her promise: with magical effect, she hopes to win over the King’s heart by the end of these nights. At the beginning, she tells the stories to her young sister Dunyâzad as a diversion. Played by a young Moroccan student, Dunyâzad is initiated into the recitation of all these legendary women whose light shines like a thousand stars.

Mystical poets from the Indian Mira Baï to the Iraqi Rabia al Adawiyya al Qaysiyya, and the pre-Islamic Bedouin Al Hansa; mythical wise women such as Balqis, Queen of Sheba who confronts King Solomon with her wisdom, as well as the slave Tawaddud Al-Jâriya, illustrated by the giant African puppets, who challenged the sages in the court of Haroun Al-Rashid – all of these lead us on a voyage through poetry, song and dance, highlighting the idea of knowledge and understanding as symbolised by Oum El Banine (also known as Fatima El Fihriya) who founded the Karaouine mosque and university in Fes.

Rebellious women from old Morocco are here too, those from Tetouan and the Amazigh women of the Atlas, when the veil emerged as an expression of revolt against the occupying forces.

Enhancing the path through A Thousand and One Nights are horsewomen poets from the Mongolian steppes, musicians from the court palaces of Azerbaijan and the voices of Persian Sufis. They all show that Reason is the result of piety and faith, as shown in the old stories, reinforcing the idea of feminine wisdom full of grace and inspiration.

The walls of Bab al Makina are transformed by moving images (known as mapping) and become the celestial vault under which Sheherazade captures our imagination with these great women, so that we become eastern princes for a night. For each one, a shooting star appears in the sky across the great door of Bab al Makina like a shining spirit, materialising into an exceptional woman. This sparkling light envelops the stage – symbol of light in both a spiritual and intellectual sense, the opposite of darkness.

Women artists from Morocco, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Ethiopia, India, Lebanon, Italy and China perform, accompanied by a large oriental orchestra.


Concept and direction: Alain Weber

Lighting: Christophe Olivier, assisted by Gaël Boucault

Staging (mapping): Spectaculaires – Allumeurs d’images

Direction, composition and orchestral arrangements: Ramzi Aburedwan



Nadia Kounda as Sheherazade – Morocco

Dikra Al Kalaï as Dunyâzad – Morocco



Ingie Women’s Qanun Ensemble directed by Tarana Aliyeva

With the support of the International Mugham Center of Azerbaijan


Xinjiang Province, China:

Mukkadas Mijit, dance



Zewditou Taddese, song

Grum Begashaw Tegene, kebero drum

Henok Aria, masinko (single-stringed bowed lute)

Imebiet Tegegne, dance



Parvathy Das Baul, song and ektara (one-stringed lute)



Sahar Mohammadi, song

Azad Mirzapour, tar lute and composition



Maristella Martella, dance

Cinzia Marzo, voice, tambourine and tammorra tambourine



Abeer Nehme, song and composition



Ösökhjargal Pürevsüren, khöömii song

Khulan Navaandemberel, morin khuur (horsehead fiddle)



Zinab Alfilal, Andalous song from Tetouan

Dance of the veils, Tafraout


Palestine – Morocco

Moroccan Palestinian Orchestra directed by Ramzi Aburedwan


Artistic Coordination and general management: Anne Le Gouguec

Artistic Advisor: Soudabeh Kia, Francis Falceto, Johanni Curtet, Lahsen Hira, Aytan Mouradova

Artistic management: Snafu Wowkonowicz

Sound: Chris Ekers and Erik Loots

Technical Director: Hamid Anbassi

Technical Management: Rachid Belhasna and Adil El Acchab


With thanks to Edith Nicol, Hafida Bensouillah, Michel Le Bastard and Caroline Bourgine



Saturday 7 May

16.30 Jnan Sbil Garden   €20

Sacred Persian Song

Sahar Mohammadi – Iran

Ingie Women’s Qanun Ensemble – Azerbaijan

Classical Persian music is unique in the east due its constant regeneration. As well as its historical aspect, its emotions are authentic: the fruit of its mystical heritage. For it is not the desire to create aesthetic beauty that lives traditionally in the artist, but the search for truth and to pass on the ‘revelation’, avoiding any narcissistic temptation.

In olden times women sang the wide repertoire of radif music, and today there is a movement towards this again: many women are now performing radif. Sahar Mohammadi is one of them: she has a beautifully rich and strong voice.

Ingie is a wonderful ensemble of young women playing the qanun (dulcimer), directed by Tarana Aliyeva. They show the vitality of the Azeri tradition of Baku and the richness of this heritage where Turkish, Persian and Caucasian elements combine.

Ingie is supported by the International Mugham Center of Azerbaijan.


21.00 Bab Al Makina    A seats: €50; B seats: €25

Durbar:  to the glory of princes and in praise of God – international premiere

Homage to India: The greatest Indian singers and musicians perform in this splendid musical event

For many centuries in India great court musicians performed their art within the palaces of Rajput dynasties and Mughal nabobs. For a durbar or prince’s court meeting, a public audience attended along with the more formal court, making for flamboyant performances. Here artists and courtesans performed with pride and delicacy; everyone enjoyed their songs, gestures, artistry and mastery.
Here in Fes at the sumptuous Bab Al Makina with the stage set for the occasion, a night of virtuosity awaits us, for we are princes and princesses of the royal court for an evening. Coming from all corners of India, some 15 classical soloists and percussionists are on stage with the Rajasthani singers and the hypnotic Kathak dancers. Be they bold rising stars or well-known members of the established set, all have been chosen for their creative genius. After all, who could be better to demonstrate their miraculous arts and show off their mastery?

In the tradition of begum singers, who enchanted the princely court with their somewhat impertinent charisma, the young yet already superb Rageshri Das opens this exceptional Durbar. Alongside are two revelations: Shashank Subramaniam and Rakesh Chaurasia, both masters of the Bansuri flute in the Carnatic and Hindu tradition. They play with Ustad Irshad Khan with his powerful style of playing the surbahar (bass sitar), Soumik Datta, lively exponent of the sarod and Alla Rakha Kalavant whose celebrated name is associated with the sarangi.

To accompany them, an invitation to no less than Ustad Sabir Khan, the 33rd caliph of Farukhabad Gharana, the principle tabla school, has produced his two young sons Arif and Asif. Performing outside Bengal for the very first time, they share the stage with the master percussionists Shahbaz Hussain and Parupalli Phalgun.

It would not be possible to assemble this Durbar without representatives from the world of folk music. With their voices already showing the harshness and severity of the Tahr desert, the children of Chota Divana present the work of the bards of the ‘Land of Princes’. Anwar Khan Manghaniyar and Gazi Khan Barna, well-known on the international stage, make these musical gems shine even brighter.

This assembly is punctuated by frenzied classical Kathak dancing at its most rhythmic and masterful. Four of the very best dancers perform here to show us the brilliance of this music that goes back to the beginning of time.

Artistic conception: Collectif ECHO

Sunday 8 May

16.30 Jnan Sbil Garden   €20

Christine Salem – Réunion

Maloya revisited

Christine Salem is charismatic and bewitching. She is one of those rare women performing Maloya, traditional ritual music from the island of Réunion. Accompanied by her favourite kayamb, a type of rattle, Salem sings Creole, Malagasy, Comorian and Swahili poetry in a deep voice. Maloya invokes ancestral spirits: here Asian and African rhythms meld to echo the story of an island at the crossroads of the world.

In her latest album, Mi Larg pa lo kor, Christine Salem has forged a path to freedom – a freedom that is radiant, solemn and just; a freedom that is all-conquering, nourished by spiritual searching as well as her path as a musician; a freedom open to the other, made up of sharing and enthusiasm.

21.00 Bab Al Makina   A seats: €50; B seats: €25
Divas of the World
First part: Hindi Zahra – France and Morocco
Second part: Oumou Sangaré – Mali
From Agadir to Paris, from the Wassoullou region to Bamako, Hindi Zahra and Oumou Sangaré are contemporary muses of Morocco and Mali.
These strong women transpose their ancestral culture into the modern world. They know better than anyone the value of the past.
Oumou Sangaré is the great diva of Mali, a true symbol of African women recognised by UNESCO and the FAO (United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization)
for her business acumen. Above all she is the brightest star in the Wassoullou tradition south of the Niger River.
Hindi Zahra is an inspired Amazigh activist, already known as a pop star and performs in a burst of creative jazz, flamenco rhythms, music from Cape Verde
and African drumming. She is entranced by Gnawa music.

22.00 Boujloud Square    free of charge
Over Boys  |  Batoul Marouani

Monday 9 May

16.30 Jnan Sbil Garden   €15

Officina Zoé – Italy

With special appearance by Maria Mazzotta (voice) and Maristella Martella (dance)

Women’s voices from Puglia and their songs of love, work and healing

Music cares for the soul

-        Officina Zoé


Through the artistry of its women, southern Italy has preserved the wealth of its pastoral heritage where the sacred and profane are intrinsically linked. This is a land where dance and music make miracles – the land of Salento in the extreme southeast of Puglia. For centuries it has heard the playing of tambourines and the singing of women. Their songs tell ancient myths of impossible love and are sung while the women work. And in these fields hides the menace of the tarantula  – the people of Salento have a healing ritual to eradicate the poison of its terrifying bite, known as Tarantism. Mixing up dance, music, trance, possession and Christian devotion, the origins of Tarantism go back to the Dionysiac rites of antiquity.

In order to care for the woman caught by the spider, the local musicians are called upon to play rhythms that lead her into a wild dance as she begins to go into a trance. This expels the poison and brings her back to health. It is not surprising that the word Pizzica means the potentially mortal bite of the tarantula as well as this frenetic music which continues to be played at village festivals in Salento. Here where the rhythm engenders both a whirlwind of a dance and an antidote to poison, today it is a remedy for the tribulations of modern life!


In partnership with Puglia Sounds, Puglia Region, FSC 2007/2013


Night in the Medina I : Homage to India – Evening Ragas

Throw open the doors to an enchanting night of Indian music and abandon yourself to an atmosphere both contemplative and exhilarating.

The gifted artists for this special night come from Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Jodhpur and Jaipur, as well as from cities of the Indian diaspora: London, Manchester and Toronto. Most of these young masters of Hindu and Carnatic music are performing for the first time in Morocco and for some, it is their first performance outside the sub-continent.

18.00 and 20.30 Dar Adiyel   €20

Rageshri Das – Kolkata

Ghazal songs – international premiere

From the Gharana tradition of Varanasi, Rageshri Das is the first performer this evening. Her proud beauty recalls portraits of acclaimed begums – those emancipated women who were rather irreverent. As soon as Das begins singing, we are immediately entranced: her light tone is almost frivolous, then plunges suddenly into depths not usually found in women of only thirty. The work underlying this talent is tangible. Her voice breaks in a language that reveals the emotion of the raga. She instils feeling into it in successive waves, and gathers us up with her wonderful improvisation.

This music is within her. Her father, Purnendu Das, trained with Pandit Mahadev Prasad Mishra, a fine exponent of khyal and thumri song with a great knowledge of the bandishes (composed melody, the literary element of the raga) and a contemporary of the glorious Siddeshwar Devi and Rasoolan Bai, who looked very much like Rageshri.

Rageshri learned this type of Varanasi Gharana from the age of 8, joining Pandit Mohan Lal Mishra and his son Sri Deepak Mishra, with whom she received rigorous talim (training). Twenty-two years later she is shaped by Guru-Shishya Parampara, a traditional mentoring system of learning that ensures the survival of the art.


19.00 Sidi Mohamed Ben Youssef Cultural Complex   €20

Shashank Subramaniam and Rakesh Chaurasia, masters of the Bansuri flute – Chennai and Mumbai

What a privilege it is to attend this jugalbandi, as we call this duo of soloists from the Indian tradition. This is a performance that promises to be full of challenges, respect and goodwill.

Coming from the tradition of TR Mahalingam and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, these thirty-year-olds are already masters and hold the foundation of music with a cosmic charm. The philosophers of ancient India say how excellently the bamboo flute expresses the union between nature and the divine. The image of the Lord Krishna charming the young Gopi shepherdesses with his sensuous melodies emphasises this image of a visible world that urges everyone of feeling towards contemplation, opening the doors to the divine.

Shashank gave his first concert in Adelaide at the age of just 11. Today, looking like a student absorbed in another world, with his bamboo flute under one arm and his laptop under the other, this prodigy is one of a sacrosanct circle of great masters of Carnatic music where the legends of tomorrow are established.

Rakesh Chaurasia: now here is a name that transcends space and time and demands high standards. Rakesh is no other than the nephew of the legendary Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and his most accomplished pupil. He has sworn allegiance: to follow his heritage and to seek new paths. If an indisputable quality has been bequeathed to him, it is the balance between power and serenity. His experienced technique along with training in swar and tala (rhythms) lift us to the heights of consciousness. This explorer has recently been involved in experimental work, without losing sight of the exacting demands of classical music.


20.30 Sidi Mohamed Ben Youssef Cultural Complex    €20

Ustad Irshad Khan – Toronto

Sitar and surbahar

A globetrotter with a staggeringly long discography, Irshad Khan’s powerful dexterity is impressive. He comes from an awe-inspiring line: son and pupil of Ustad Imrat Khan, himself the younger brother of the great Ustad Vilayat Khan of the Imdadkhani Gharana (north Indian school of sitar and surbahar music) which played for the Mughal courts for over 400 years. Irshad plays with a superb mastery and prowess of great endurance. He imbues his performances with enormous energy. His taan (the singing of very rapid melodic passages) flirt with the speed of light, then suddenly become transcendently sweet.


22.00 Boujloud Square   free of charge

Mourad Bouriki  |  Lamia Zaidi



Tuesday 10 May

16.30  Jnan Sbil Garden   €15


Inspired by Kurdish, Persian and Azeri traditions


Aynur, voice

Kayhan Kalhor, kamanche (Persian stringed instrument)

Salman Gambarov, piano

Cernîl Ǫoçgirî, various instruments

Connected by their Kurdish roots and their musical sense, the celebrated Iranian master of the kamanche, Kayhan Kalhor and singer Aynur have come together for this creation which, as a counterpoint to the disastrous events in the Middle East, has a symbolic strength. They are accompanied by Azeri jazz pianist Salman Gambarov and Kurdish instrumentalist Cernîl Ǫoçgirî. The quartet offers a refined repertoire showcasing the multiple influences of ancient civilisations and rich cultures.

Aynur is a young singer who appeared in the film Crossing The Bridge, The Sound of Istanbul (2005) by director Fatih Akin. She takes the traditional Kurdish song to new levels, coaxing it out of Persian culture and bringing to it a sophisticated touch of oriental jazz from the Caucasus where this style is particularly inventive today.

There are songs of love in the summer pastures, of farewells and weddings; celebrations of metaphorical journeys and the secrets of life concealed in the string of the tanbûr; praise songs to prodigious nature and the infinite inspiration it gives; challenging songs, too, about war.


Night in the Medina II

20.00 Dar Adiyel    €20

Yulduz Turdieva – Uzbekistan

The Shash-Maqâm tradition of Bukhara

In the 15th and 16th centuries, the classical music of Central Asia was at its peak thanks to the Silk Road where merchants, sages, artists, wandering bards, pilgrims and believers of all stripes rubbed shoulders. The refined art of shash-maqâm continues to enchant after a long and arduous learning process. Yulduz Turdieva, a classical maqâmchi singer, has achieved official acclaim but has not stopped there: she explores other genres both classical (khalqi klassiki) and popular (khalqi) as well as songs (qoshiq) and popular traditions such as those of the women of Bukhara (sâzanda). She sings in Persian-Tajik and in Uzbek.


20.00 Sidi Mohamed Ben Youssef Cultural Complex   €20

Ensemble Dialogos – Bosnia and Herzogovina

Heretic Angels: Popular Rituals and Beliefs

Founded by singer and musicologist Katarina Livljanić, the Ensemble Dialogos interprets the sacred music of medieval Europe. Combining profound musicological research with great strength on stage, their work carves out a new approach to ancient music by giving a contemporary feel. In this brand new repertoire, the group explores theatricality as well as plain chant and the first medieval polyphony, with a particular interest in the southern Slav region.

In this work, Dialogos encounters traditional musicians and are some of the youngest heirs to the epic songs of Bosnia and Herzogovina, a country on the threshold of the Orient. These poignant, bitter songs intertwine with musical theatre, inviting the public to enjoy the unusual beauty of rituals of life from birth to death, both pagan and Christian.

Dialogos is supported by the DRAC Ile de France – Ministry of Culture and Communication.

Co-production Fondation Royaumont.


23.00 Sidi Mohamed Ben Youssef Cultural Complex   €20

Parvathy Baul and Mehdi Nassouli – India and Morocco

Poetry of Wandering Mystics: from Bauls to Gnawas

Tell me, Fool,

What are you looking for on the roads of the world?

Look in your room and you will find the jewel …

The same cosmic game is played in the human body,

Just like the moon hides behind the clouds.

To know the self, this is to pray.

He who knows the Invisible, says Lalan,

Knows where to go.

-        Fakir Lalan Shah


Poetess Parvathy Baul whirls with her arms outstretched to the sky, caught in the spiral of a breeze that frees the spirit. She projects her being almost as healing, while reciting vague mystical poetry. She is truly an enchantress from another world.

Young Mehdi Nassouli believes that his Gnawa heritage gives him great musical inspiration.

The Bauls (from the Sanskrit vatul, literally ‘fool’, drunk with divine aspiration) are the last great nomadic mystics of the world. They dance somewhere between heaven and earth, between poetic ecstasy and carnal reality. They are not far away from the universe of the Gnawas, whose roots go deep into ancestral African trance.


22.00 Boujloud Square   free of charge

Participation of the French Institute in Fes: Buddha Bar  |  Omar Boutmazoukt


Wednesday 11 May

Night in the Medina III

20.00 Sidi Mohamed Ben Youssef Cultural Complex   €20

Lamar – Palestine

Arab Songs from Palestine

Lamar, whose real name is Rula Hasna, is one of those young singers who retains the celebrated, deep sensibility of the tarab, a long way from the antiseptic quality put out by Arab television channels.

Lamar is originally from Acre – known in crusader times as St Jean d’Acre. With her husband Mahran Moreb who is a master qanun (dulcimer) player and composer, she concentrates on a repertoire that conjures up the atmosphere found at the musical salons of the sultans of old.  As in the piece Fi A’ainaika O’unwani, she illustrates historic poetry – that of the ancient poets of Palestine and the Arab world during the Renaissance (the Nahda) – right up to Oum Kalthoum who had a true melodic background.

Listening to Lamar, one recalls the compositions of Zakaria Ahmed, Farid al-Atrash and Mohammed Al Qasabji accompanying the diva on the lute, impenetrable behind her dark glasses.


21.30  Prefecture Hall, Batha (opposite the Batha Museum)    €20

Farida Mohammad Ali – Iraq

The Voice of Maqâm

Although it was only towards the end of the 18th century that current Iraqi maqâm was defined, one still dreams of the sumptuous epoch of the Abbassids of the 8-13th centuries. Lying at the heart of the ancient land of Mesopotamia, Baghdad – the country between the two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates – was home to a universal Islam within the confines of the Arab world, both Turkish and Persian. This is still seen in the tchâlghî baghdâdi ensembles.

These ensembles are principally characterised by their use of the santûr, a hammered dulcimer similar to that used in Persian tradition, and the djôza (the name of the soundbox made of coconuts, djôz al-hind, or ‘Indian nut’), a four-stringed fiddle which is today replaced less than satisfactorily with a western violin.  These two instruments of great acoustic delicacy give the Iraqi tradition an enigmatic perfume of the far-off Orient.

The term maqâm (literally a location or place) refers to a type of music possessed of a particular mood or feeling. In the classical music tradition of Iraq, it means simply a song which masterfully develops a wide range of emotions through its 23 modes. After a short instrumental prelude known as the muqadimma, the art of the qârî (singer or reciter) consists of delivering some rich verses in the tradition of the qasida, a type of Arab poetry that continues to inspire great contemporary poets.

Farida Mohammad Ali was born in Kerbela, a mythical Shi’a village in southern Iraq, where the tradition of women singers was permitted. Accompanied by her tchâlghî baghdâdi ensemble, she expresses the refinement of the ancient courts as well as a rich popular repertoire.


22.00 Boujloud Square   free of charge

Najat Atabou  |  Embassy of Pakistan


23.00 Dar Adiyel   €20

Ariana Vafadari – Iran and France

Gathas: Zoroastrian Song

Ariana Vafadari brings to life texts that date back more than 3700 years. She sings in the ancient Iranian Gathic language in which these Hymns of Zarathusthra were written. They are the prayers of Zoroastrianism, a monotheistic religion of ancient Persia, still practised today by the Parsi community principally living in Iran and India.

The ancient Persians received this religion from Zoroaster or Zarathusthra who was born around 660 BCE in Bactria (now Afghanistan) and was a contemporary of Pericles, Buddha and Confucius. In the holy book Avesta, the prophet describes the battle between the Kingdoms of Light and Darkness (Ahriman).  The supreme being Ahura-Mazda created Mithra, god of the sun, moon and stars. Fire is the son of Ahura-Mazda; this is the reason why the ancient Persians who followed Zarathusthra and Mazdaism, also known as Zoroastrianism, never extinguished sacred fires.



Thursday 12 May

16.30 Jnan Sbil Garden  €15

Lalla Rquia Ouhmad: Women’s Ensemble of Sacred Amazigh Song – Tiznit, Morocco

While each year the Festival of World Sacred Music showcases the rich music and culture of far-flung places, we should not forget that Morocco itself is one of the greatest depositories of this intangible cultural heritage.

In their attachment to the land as well as to heaven, Amazigh women sing sacred songs. Their voices evoke the spirituality of the Amazigh people who dedicate their talent to the art of Sufi poetry in the Tamazight language.

In collaboration with the Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture.


18.00 Riad Dar Bensouda   €20

Shaykh Hassan Dyck and the Muhabbat Caravan

Meditation and Sufi Flavours

The listener is an interpreter and the interpreter a listener.

-        Djalal Eddine Rûmi

Over a glass of tea in a superb setting, Shaykh Hassan Dyck and other artists representing the Sufi world offer a meditative path through universal spiritual song. The performance conjures up the mystical wisdom of Islam through poems, particularly those of Rûmi and Hâfiz. This is a rare moment which pays tribute to both the feminine element within Sufi poetry and the Islamic arts.

The music of Shaykh Hassan Dyck is inspired, giving emphasis to improvisation and particular attention to the ambiance, vibration and resonance of the auditorium in which his viola d’amore echoes.

In partnership with Riad Dar Bensouda.


21.00 Bab Al Makina   A seats: €50; B seats: €25

Istanbul – Fes –  Turkey and Morocco – international premiere

with the Mohammed Briouel Andalusian Ensemble and the whirling dervishes of Istanbul

In the great Mevlevi tradition and the art of Andalusian Samâa

We have fallen into the place where all is music.

The strumming and the flute notes rise into the atmosphere, and if the whole world’s harp should burn up, there will still be hidden instruments
playing, playing.
This singing art is sea foam.
The graceful movements come from a pearl somewhere on the ocean floor.

-        Djalal Eddine Rûmi

This encounter between two great Sufi music traditions is a tribute both to the great Djalal Eddine Rûmi whose poetry is still read today across the world, and to Moroccan samaâ.

Samaâ teaches the absolute primordial sound, engendering the Word of God. For a number of tarîqas, spiritual listening (al-samaâ) and the practice of ritual dance (al-hadra) produce ecstatic phenomena (hal) and trance. Today samaâ is practised by those on Rûmi’s path, the Ottoman Mevlevis, as well as by the Arab Mawlawiyya and numerous brotherhoods across the Maghreb. Morocco is an important guardian of this tradition.

As musicologist Sami Sadak noted, the history of Turkish religious music is closely allied to the various successive capitals of the Turkish Empire. In the 13th century, Konya became an important cultural centre under the reign of the Seljuk Turks thanks to Mevlâna Djalal Eddine Rûmi, who placed a great deal of importance on music in his philosophical and spiritual teachings. His approach was furthered by Chams Ed-Din Tabrizi who encouraged the worship of God through the arts. The Mevlevî rite recorded by his son, Veled Sultan, is perpetuated today in the tekke (monastery) at Konya by the çelebi (superiors) who succeded him. The foundation of the order of Mevlevi whirling dervishes at Istanbul has left its mark on a musical tradition that is meditative and trance-like.

The whirling dervish, his arms outstretched with the right hand open to heaven and the left directed to earth, is a channel of divine grace. This magic must be experienced: men and women in wide white or coloured skirts whose turning symbolises the movement of the planets and the stars.


22.00 Boujloud Square  free of charge

Mahmoud Al Idrissi  |  Khalid Ali Orchestra


Friday 13 May

16.30 Jnan Sbil Garden   €20

Virginia Rodrigues – Brazil

Celestial Voice

With her ritual Afro-Brazilian and gospel repertoire, Virginia Rodrigues has a rare charisma and inspiration in which the sacred is naturally evident. She spent her formative years singing in Catholic and Protestant church choirs: this forms the essence of faith that blossoms at each performance.

In the footsteps of the great lyrical singing legends such as Jessye Norman, or the jazz singer Billie Holliday, this artist from Salvador de Bahia has managed to conquer Brazil despite being black and poor, particularly with the patronage of Caetano Veloso. She sings the songs to the orixás (Afro-Brazilian gods) in a completely unexpected way. Acoustic guitars, a cello and percussion enhance her singing and prove a deep attachment to her African roots. She performs the works of major composers of African descent with accuracy and authenticity.

21.00 Bab Al Makina   A seats: €50; B seats: €25
To be announced
22.00 Boujloud Square   free of charge
Reda Taliyani  |  Abdellah Yacoubi

Saturday 14 May

16.30 Jnan Sbil Garden   €20

Yom – France

The Silence of Exodus

Yom, clarinet and composition

Farid D, cello

Claude Tchamitchian, double bass

Bijan Chemirani, zarb, daf and bendir (percussion)


Master clarinettist and enthusiastic composer, Yom wrote The Silence of Exodus as a journey through a two-way mirror, half way between powerful ancestry and stunning modernity.

Based on the historical story of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt and their long years of wandering in the Sinai desert, Yom dives into the universal confrontation of the human being with his existential solitude through all types of exodus, whatever their point of departure and destination.

This work has a passionate musical intensity that is truly rich. It could not be a better illustration of how music can impose its sacredness solely through the inspiration of the artist.

The Silence of Exodus was commissioned for the Festival d’Ile-de-France in 2012.


21.00 Bab al Makina   A seats: €60; B seats: €30

Samira Saïd – Morocco

A Moroccan Singing Star

The story of Samira Saïd, or Bensaïd, is one of the most entrancing. She was discovered in 1980 at the Eurovision Song Contest when she represented Morocco at The Hague with the song Bitaqat hob (map of love). Ever since then she has had a magnificent career as a Moroccan singer, known and adored from Egypt to the Middle East.

Even today, Samira Saïd has an important place in the world of Moroccan and Arab song. She appears in the biggest shows and has an evolving musical style. She has performed with Cheb Mami.

If Samira Saïd has broken with the classical style of the Oum Kalthoum and Mohammed Abdel Wahab generation, she nevertheless has a superb voice capable of remarkable vocal ornamentations.


22.00 Boujloud Square   free of charge

Marcel Khalife




Friday 6 May

Starting point to be confirmed: 16h00

Discover the Fountains of Fes

With smartphone app, accompanied by music by Susie Ibarra and local artists, this discovery of the Fes fountains will conclude with a live concert at the Karaouine Library.


Venue to be confirmed: 16h00

Children Today, Musicians Tomorrow

Screening of the film Chota Divana, the little princes of Rajasthan – India, with a concert performed

by children of Fes


Throughout the Festival

In the Medina: The Mamas – giant African puppets


Jnan Sbil Gardens: Taragalte Cultural Caravan for Peace

The Association Zaila’s nomad-style tent in the Jnan Sbil Gardens will feature the culture and music of the Moroccan Sahara.


Festival Facts


  • This year, afternoon concerts are held in the Jnan Sbil Gardens. Note that there is no afternoon concert on Wednesday, which makes this a good time to go on a day trip out of Fez – ask us for details of our day excursion to the Roman World Heritage Site of Volubilis, the important pilgrimage town of Moulay Idriss and the imperial city of Meknes.

batha museum

  • Big evening concerts are held at Bab al Makina, the open-air parade ground in front of the Royal Palace. It’s off the western edge of this map, across Boujloud Square.




  • Free concerts are held each evening at Boujloud Square, close to Bab Boujloud. The programme for this Festival in the City has yet to be published.
  • Nights in the Medina concerts (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) are held in smaller venues including the music conservatory Dar Adiyel (blue 5), Sidi Mohamed Ben Youssef Cultural Complex (blue 4), the Prefecture Hall in Batha opposite the Batha Museum (blue 1) and Riad Dar Bensouda (red 47).
  • Sufi Nights at 23h00 are free of charge and are held in the garden of Dar Tazi, the Festival headquarters (blue 2). The programme has yet to be announced.
  • The Fes Forum is held on the first five mornings of the festival (ie Saturday to Wednesday) in the Jnan Sbil Garden; programme to be announced. Most of the proceedings are in French, but there is simultaneous translation into English and Arabic. You may ask questions in English as most of the panel members speak it.


Seating and Ticketing

  • Seats are not reserved. Get to the venue in plenty time if you want a good seat.
  • Seats are raked at Bab al Makina; elsewhere they are on the flat. There are no chairs at the Nights in the Medina or Sufi Nights venues, but carpets on the floor.
bab al makina plan
Plan of Bab al Makina. The stage is on the left.
  • At Bab al Makina, you can buy A or B seats. A seats are located closer to the stage; B seats towards the back of the auditorium. If you buy a pass, you automatically have A seats.
  • There are side screens at Bab al Makina, one on each side of the stage.
  • As an indication, a pass to all events costs 305 Euros and automatically includes A seats for concerts at Bab al Makina.
  • You can now buy tickets on this site. Tickets can be delivered to your guesthouse if you are staying in the medina; other arrangements will be made if you are staying elsewhere.


  • Weather can be variable: it can rain, be very cold and windy at Bab al Makina, or stiflingly hot. It’s best to bring layers, something waterproof, a sunhat and a fan.
  • Seats are not particularly comfortable. If necessary, bring a cushion.
  • Consider taking a trip or arranging an activity on Wednesday as there is no afternoon concert. You’ll find some ideas here. Contact us to book.
  • Reserve your accommodation in good time as guesthouses closest to festival venues fill up quickly. Getting to the venues is always on foot.
  • Many restaurants serve dinner early and/or later so that you can attend evening concerts. Keep an eye on the What’s Hot! page on this site.