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October 23, 2006

Arts & Lectures season opener brings famed world music tour to UCSC

By Scott Rappaport

Fresh from its U.S. debut at the steps of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and a stop at New York’s Carnegie Hall last week, “The Spirit of Fès 2006: Paths to Hope” tour comes to UCSC’s Music Recital Hall this Friday evening, October 27, to open the new Arts & Lectures season.

Photo: Gerard Edery

Gerard Edery, a leading interpreter of Sephardic vocal music, is part of the ensemble.

This touring ensemble brings together celebrated artists from Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Hindu backgrounds to perform together in a spirit of mutual respect for a one-time-only U.S. collaboration during the month of October.

The lineup of master musicians represents some of the world’s most sophisticated artistic traditions and includes:

•  Lebanese American percussionist Jamey Haddad, one of the most notable world music and jazz percussionists in the United States. Haddad has collaborated with such renowned musicians as Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Carly Simon, Joe Lovano, the Paul Winter Consort, and Betty Buckley.

The Daqqa Roudania of Taroudant, a Moroccan Sufi group whose rituals bring together a swirl of music, chant, dance, and percussion utilizing such instruments as bendir (frame) and tarija (clay) tambourines, the unique Moroccan metal castanets called qarqaba, and the wind instrument called a neffar.

Palestinian American multi-instrumentalist Zafer Tawil, based in New York City and playing the violin, oud (lute), percussion, and qanoun (hammered dulcimer), he has performed with some of the Arab world’s most celebrated artists, including violinist and oud master Simon Shaheen and rai singer Cheb Mami--as well as with Western superstars such as Sting.

Vocalist Susan Hellauer, one of the founding members of the extraordinarily popular early music ensemble Anonymous 4, whose recordings have sold well over one million copies worldwide and whom Billboard magazine recently praised, saying: “For sheer radiance…nobody else comes close.”

Gerard Edery, born in Casablanca to a Jewish family and one of today’s leading interpreters of Sephardic vocal music, he has also performed more than 30 roles with opera companies around the United States.

South Indian singer Aruna Sairam, one of the most celebrated practitioners of the intricate Carnatic (South Indian classical) style, which is rooted in the devotional traditions of South India’s Hindu temples.

The tour is an outgrowth of Morocco’s world-acclaimed annual Fès Festival of World Sacred Music held each summer in Morocco’s former imperial city of Fès--which brings together artists, audiences, political figures, and spiritual leaders from across the globe. It was founded 12 years ago in the wake of the first Gulf War with the goal of creating a cultural dialogue between the world’s diverse cultures.

After the events of September 11, a U.S. tour was initiated in 2004 when festival organizers noted a large drop in the number of Americans attending the Moroccan festival. The idea was to bring to this country the spirit of Fès--which for centuries has been one of the great centers of spiritual, political, and intellectual life within the Muslim world, and has been home to generations of Islamic, Jewish, and Christian communities living side-by-side.

This will be the second touring ensemble from the festival to perform in the United States. Over the years, the Moroccan event has attracted some of the world’s most celebrated performers and cultural ambassadors, including Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar, Senegalese vocalist Youssou N’Dour, Brazilian singer and guitarist (and Brazil’s current Minister of Culture) Gilberto Gil, and South African vocalist Miriam Makeba, plus many soloists and ensembles from Fès itself and surrounding areas of Morocco.

Tickets are available at the UCSC Ticket Office, (831) 459-2159.       
                                            

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