“Andalusies Atlantiques d’Essaouira” or when a festival restores the memory of the Judeo-Muslim communion

Once is not customary and state of health emergency requires, fans of the Festival Atlantic Andalusia from Essaouira, exceptionally this time, were not at the foot of the stage, for its 17th edition. And for good reason the musical event of every Souiris autumn, was organized under other limelight and in virtual mode, live on the Web, four days or evenings during from the headquarters of the Fondation Trois Cultures de la Mediterranean in Seville, Spain. But let’s face it! we are at more than 230,000 visits and the future looks bright on the web.

This virtual singularity, initiated by the Essaouira-Mogador Association, of which André Azoulay, Counselor to the King, is the Founding President and who is also co-president of the Fondation Trois Cultures de la Méditerranée, will undoubtedly leave this edition with a further opportunity to strengthen the lasting character of a festival which has carved out, for almost two decades already, a place among the most prestigious cultural and musical events on a world scale where Muslims, Jews and Christians give pride of place to hand under the shimmering sounds of Andalusian music once stolen from Valencia, Granada or Cordoba…, in short, inherited from Moorish Spain.

Little by little, it spread throughout the Maghreb, carried away through time and space, by the musical styles of the Arab, Muslim and Jewish communities who have influenced each other, proving harmony of their cohabitation and social cohesion.

In the Maghreb, wrote the Franco-Moroccan historian, Haïm Zafani, and more particularly in Morocco, the Moslem and Jewish populations piously preserved the Hispano-Arab music…. In Spain as in Morocco, the Jews have been the ardent maintainers of Andalusian music and the zealous guardians of its old traditions. Andalusian music practiced by Moroccans of the Jewish faith, descendants of the Judeo-Andalusians, are called ” piyoutim “ and the ” trîq “.

This style is mainly from Meknes. Subsequently, Andalusian Judeo-Moroccan music was exported to countries where the Judeo-Moroccan diaspora settled (Israel, France, Canada, United States, etc.).

Beyt Dakira

But in our case, that of Mogador, if the Cité des Alizés blew the 17thth candle of Atlantic Andalusia in the cloud so to speak, the mythical spaces of Dar Souiri, Bayt Dakira or the capital of El Minzeh, they remained, instruments on earth, of a completely different musical reality.

Classical nouba, piyoutim in Hebrew, popular melodies (chaabi) and festive or meditative music, have declined in as many ways, in these virtual days, the Andalusian musical heritage of Morocco, all interpreted by Jewish artists and prominent Muslims. We will retain from this festival, the participation of the percussionist (darbouka) Matan Caspi, the voice of the Rabbi, Haim Louk, the violinist Anass Belhachmi, the virtuoso pianist Dorantes, the singer Rafael de Utrera, the Bailaora (flamenco dancer) Pastora Galvan and the Andalusian orchestra of Jalal Chekara, and so many other performers from different parts of the Mediterranean and elsewhere, who sang, to highlight the Arab-Judeo-Muslim heritage, its music, its spirit dialogue and the fusion of cultures.

El Menzeh marquee

They have graced aficionados with artistic performances executed with mastery, thus thrilling the thousands if not hundreds of thousands of music lovers, Muslim Jews and Christians. Dorantes and Jalal Chekara are respectively the nephews of Joaquín Peña, El Lebrijano, and Abdessadak Chekara, who in the 1980s were the forerunners of this twinning between flamenco and Andalusian music. And if through this festival we celebrated the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the declaration of Flamenco as Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, her older sister, the Andalusian music from which she is inspired, could very well follow suit. with the launch of an important initiative to call on this UN institution to recognize it and also classify it as intangible heritage of humanity.

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Broken down with André Azoulay about this unique musical festival in the world which once a year brings together two religions, Islam and Judaism by thousands of people interposed, one can only be fascinated by listening to it.

Judeo-Moroccan chaabi music, he said to Hespress FR: “It is at the same time sophisticated but accessible to all. There are no social barriers on feels it from below from above, from all sides. It is from my point of view one of the aspects, naturally, artistically, socially and, culturally in a broader way, which gives all its truth and all its legitimacy to this Judeo-Muslim history. “.

Then returning to Andalousies Atlantiques, André Azoulay presents it as follows: “ In this festival which is the only one in the world – I say it without sycophancy without pretension and precaution – where Islam and Judaism meet once a year, for 17 years, by thousands of people, – at the start c ‘were a few hundred music lovers or participants – with this joy, this intimacy with this proximity, to sing together, dance together, exchange together, mobilize together, listen together, reflect together, and also debate together because every morning of the festival for four days we have a forum that, I created and where, the word is free “.

Dar Souiri

Then returning to the communion between the two communities, the President-Founder of Essaouira-Mogador, to wander in deep thoughts, “In this embroidery, we call it the” matrouz “because there is arabic and from hebrew. We had that in Essaouira you know, if you passed in an alley, you hear at the bottom of the mazes, a song coming from a nouba or a piece of chgouri or malhoune. In short, a song under musical background, you did not know if it came from a mosque or a synagogue, – there were forty of them in Essaouira -, or from a Jewish house or a Muslim house because it was the same. So we returned that. It is not only memory or nostalgia, Essaouira has reappropriated this memory through the voice of the two communities.

And deduce“Over time, this has both a social, philosophical, moral and ideological impact that no other ideological or political theory can contradict. It is a massive result which quickly arrived. And that only Morocco knows how to do it. No other country claims to know how to do it. We have given body flesh and reality to this communion.

He explains in this regard that “It is not just rhetoric or theory, it is a reality that speaks both of this Morocco of rationality, this Morocco of modernity but a modernity nourished by its richness, this diversity which makes us different and our specificity. And then this Morocco speaks, because culture is the best school from the point of view of pedagogy. It’s all very complex, it’s not easy, it’s not black and white, it’s not propaganda, it’s not an order, it’s something felt, installed , lived and shared and which is legitimate because it starts from the bottom for the top as the English would say ”.

André Azoulay returning to this 17th Atlantic Andalusia edition, tells us, “This festival is particularly dear to me because it has gone around the dial. It is at the same time the artistic and cultural emotion of what music can tell us, of what poetry can tell us in the chgouri, in the malhoune, in our noubas throughout the repertoire has strings to its bow and God knows there are many. Music and poetry are invited to the great banquet of thought and celebration of all those values ​​that give meaning to this image. We cannot celebrate on one side this “embroidery” or matrouz with two voices with two hands, if we do not place it in a context that is both philosophical and moral which is that of respect, conviviality and dignity. which must be on all sides. It cannot be for one if the one in front of you is deprived of it ”.

And from one anecdote to another, André Azoulay, remembers editions where personalities of culture or other facts, having marked his mind, such as the one where Edgar Morin interrupting a concert in the marquee of El Minzeh to say ” I must salute the spirit of Essaouira, I am in a world that I thought was unreal but which is there in the flesh in this communion… ” and which was himself interrupted by Jacques Chancel also present under the big top ” No Edgar, it’s not just the spirit of Essaouira, it’s the school of Essaouira. For all of us in the world. We learn we hear and when we leave we have learned and we have heard ”.

Finally, we will retain for our part this one, of its beautiful image, “I had asked the musicians, the dancers, the singers to participate in the forums of the festivals of Andalusia and them, often – it lasts for seventeen years -, it is miraculous and magical instead of responding or participating in debate by speaking, they take their violins and they sing, they go to the piano or their percussions and they participate in the debate by their songs and their instruments. In this absolutely incredible setting that is Dar Souiri, it is the birds, owners of the places that punctuate the debates, it’s magic ”.

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