It is twenty-five years – a quarter of a century – since the very first Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. Over the years, the Festival has contributed to the dialogue between cultures and religions, thus demonstrating the values of our country, those of openness to the other in a spirit of tolerance and welcome, and the richness of its tangible and intangible heritage.
In 2018, the Executive Board of UNESCO entered into an official partnership with the Spirit of Fes Foundation. Likewise, the UN has designated the Fes Festival and its Forum as an event contributing significantly to the dialogue between civilisations.
While generations come and go over the centuries, the soul of the city of Fes is sustained by connections between different cultural traditions. Fes is the crucible of Moroccan history, and the source of its renewal.
In fact, HM the King’s initiative of renewal in the medina of Fes has today resulted in an exceptional renaissance, an infusion of new life: historic monuments such as fondouks (caravanserais), medersas (theological colleges) and kissariat (shops) have been restored in a unique manner, giving them back the vibrancy that they once enjoyed.
It is this renewal and this history that the Festival and its Forum wish to proclaim to the world for Fez to make its mark. Thanks to the new strategy of partnership and to digital communication, the media have bolstered the touristic value of the city of Fez to such an extent that tourism has seen a marked increase.
This year, the Festival is even more noteworthy in that it coincides with the twentieth year of HM the King’s reign.
Running from 14 to 22 June 2019, the Festival has as its theme Fes at the Confluence of Cultures. The extraordinary musical programme celebrates this event and this history with artists from more than thirty countries performing here. Some of the most exciting are:
*The World Youth Orchestra, a symbol of peace and dialogue, performing with the Andalus Ensemble of Fes
*Sami Yusuf, described by Time Magazine as one of the greatest Sufi singers
*The Grand Flamenco Evening with José Mercé and Tomatito
*Ritual songs and dance by Cuban women’s group Obini Batá
*The Art of Muwashah from Aleppo and Sacred Songs of Persia
*Carlos Nuñez, master of the Gaïta Bagpipes and the Oujda Traditional Ensemble
*The opening concert, premiere of a unique show entitled Fes, Memory of the Future.
In an uncertain world, the Forum provides space for exchange and debate and this year centres on the theme Fes at the Confluence of Cultures. Writers, researchers, philosophers and thinkers are taking part.
The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music is just like the medina: passing through its gates is to be filled with ancient traditions and with the values of tolerance and spirituality.
The Festival team joins me in thanking local and regional government authorities, sponsors, organisations, the media and, of course, the festival audience who all contribute to the splendour of this Festival.
Fes and its Festival are delighted to welcome you to celebrate this twenty-fifth anniversary.