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February 25, 2004

Library of Congress Hosts Opening of Islamic World's Sacred Music Festival on March 6

Spirit of Fes Begins 17-city U.S. Tour with Colloquium and Concert

The Islamic world’s most influential arts festival, Morocco’s Fes Festival of Sacred Music, opens its first American tour at the Library of Congress with 3:30 p.m. colloquium in the Whittall Pavilion and a concert at 8 p.m. in the Coolidge Auditorium on Saturday, March 6. Both events take place in the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The Spirit of Fes tour will introduce American audiences in 17 cities to an interfaith festival launched a decade ago in Morocco’s 1,000-year-old imperial city of Fes; its purpose is to foster interfaith understanding through the world’s many genres of sacred music. Its message of promoting peace through spiritual music has been heard around the world. The United Nations has called the festival an "unsung hero in the dialogue among civilizations."

In this evening’s concert, musicians from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths perform music from a variety of sacred traditions. Highlights include:

  • the Jewish call to prayer by Israeli Gabriel Meyer and the Muslim call to prayer by Palestinian Yacoub Hussein, son of a West Bank Sufi sheik;
  • centuries-old songs from the Arab-Andalusian tradition, woven from a tapestry of Muslim, Jewish and Christian elements performed by Algerian-Jewish vocalist Francoise Atlan, accompanied by Lebanese-American percussionist Jamey Haddad and Moroccan oudist Farid El Foulahi;
  • music and dance from the ancient tribal traditions of the Taroudant region of southern Morocco performed by Hadra des Femmes de Taroudant, a Muslim women's ensemble;
  • gospel music by the Anointed Jackson Sisters from North Carolina.

The colloquium, which takes place from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Whittall Pavilion, is co-sponsored by the Library and the World Bank. It is titled "In the Spirit of Fes: A Vision for Peace" and features panelists Gabriel Meyer, singer and co-founder of the Sulha Peace Project for the Reconciliation and Healing of the Children of Abraham; Faouzi Skali, professor of anthropology and Sufism and founder of the festival’s continuing colloquium on "Giving a Soul to Globalization"; Katherine Marshall, director and counselor to the president of the World Bank on the Development Dialogue on Values and Ethics; and Peter Eigen, president of Transparency International.

The Fes Festival was founded by Mohamed Kabbaj, the president of the nongovernmental organization Fes Saiss Association and Sufi scholar Faouzi Skali in response to the 1991 Persian Gulf War and to growing religious friction around the world. The festival has been committed from its inception to fostering interfaith understanding through the world’s many varieties of sacred music. For more information visit the festival’s Web site at www.spiritofes.com . It is presented by the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, Morocco, and Columbia Artists Management, LLC, U.S.A.

Tickets are required for the concert; they are distributed by Ticketmaster (maximum of two tickets per person) at (301) 808-6900 or (202) 432-SEAT for a nominal service charge of $2.75 per ticket, with additional charges for phone orders and handling. Their Web site is www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets for popular events are claimed quickly, but there are often empty seats at concert time. Interested patrons are encouraged to try for standby seats at the will-call desk in the Jefferson Building by 6:30 p.m. on concert evenings. No tickets are required to attend the colloquium.

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PR 04-037
02/25/04
ISSN 0731-3527

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