Indian American spreads sacred music’s peace message

Festival of World Sacred Music brings top multi-faith musicians fes-festival

Washington: From the ancient Moroccan city of Fez, an Indian American cultural and social entrepreneur is spreading the message of peace wafting from the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music.The nine-day festival that began Friday “has a peace making mission and was founded after the first Gulf War in 1994 when Faouzi Skali, the founder, felt that the world was polarising,” India-born Zeyba Rahman said.

Since then the festival has brought the finest multi-faith musicians and global audiences to Fez, a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site, according to the New York-based Asia and North America director of the festival.

This year’s festival, with the theme of Wisdoms of the World, has brought among others classical Dhrupad singers Gundecha Brothers from India and Farid Ayyaz Qawwals from Pakistan.

Considered one of the world’s most important festivals, the Fes Festival presents the highest calibre musicians
representing their musical tradition from all over the world, said Rahman.

Senegal’s great vocalist Youssou N’Dour, Ben Harper from the US, Francoise Atlan the Algerian Jewish vocalist are among those showcased alongside many great, diverse, Moroccan sacred musicians all collaborating with the traditional Arab Andalusian Orchestra of Fez, led by Mohammed Briouel.

“My role is to bring the festival and its programmes to the attention of the world in a variety of ways to spread its message of peace, the importance of cooperation and tolerance so that peoples and cultures thrive together regardless of religion or race,” she said.

Named as one of seven heroes in the world for the Dialogue Amongst Civilizations by the United Nations, the festival has also been honoured with the Osseimi Prize for Tolerance, previously won by South African freedom leader Nelson Mandela.

All the concerts are held in stunning, historic settings inside the ancient walled city, Rahman said. Its current affairs Fes Forum, with the permanent theme of “Giving a Soul to Globalization” holds vigorous focused discussions on the most critical topical issues.

“Heads of state, grassroots activists, spiritual leaders, artists and intellectuals all come together here to explore solutions,” she said. By Arun Kumar