The Moroccan jewel in the crown as far as music festivals are concerned made its symbolic debut in Madrid. This was the wish of the Moroccan ambassador in Madrid, Karima Benyaich, and the president of the Fez World Festival of Sacred Music, Abderrafia Zouitene, who led an event at the ambassador's residence to present the 26th edition of the festival.
The event was attended by a number of distinguished guests including Enrique Cerezo, president of Atlético de Madrid; Hana Jalloul Muro, deputy of the Socialist Party; Ana Pastor, vice-president of the Congress of Deputies; as well as other members of civil society and the Moroccan community in Spain.
The event began with a speech by Benyaich, who welcomed the new stage of diplomatic relations between Spain and Morocco and stressed the importance of music and culture as an instrument of diplomacy to unite and unite neighbours and allies. "This festival is a message to the world. A message about the diversity of Morocco, cultural, artistic and spiritual, which is inscribed in the city of Fez," said the ambassador, who also announced the forthcoming celebration of other cultural events that seek to strengthen ties between Spain and Morocco, such as the exhibition 'Around the Pillars of Hercules', which the National Archaeology Museum will open at the end of May in collaboration with the National Foundation of Museums of the Kingdom of Morocco, and under the patronage of King Felipe VI and King Mohammed VI.
His speech was followed by that of Abderrafia Zouitene, president of the Esprits de Fès Foundation, organiser of the music festival to be held between 9 and 12 June in the Moroccan imperial city. Zouitene invited the audience to the festival, which was held for the first time in 1994 and has since become one of the greatest symbols of cultural and artistic expression on the African continent and in the Mediterranean.
Zouitene praised Spanish participation in world music, citing great artists such as Tomatito, Paco de Lucía, all of them with an essence and spirit that the Fez Sacred Music Festival aims to revitalise. The Festival has always had a very important diplomatic component for the Kingdom of Morocco. It was held for the first time in 1994 against the backdrop of the Gulf Wars and was conceived as an opportunity to unite cultures and religions.
This spirit is renewed this year by the bridges built between Morocco and the State of Israel as part of the Abraham Accords. The recognition of the Hebrew country opened a new stage in relations that is widely reflected in Moroccan cultural events. The event at the ambassador's residence was in fact attended by her Israeli counterpart, Rodica Radian-Gordon.
After the introductory speeches, Spanish and Moroccan musical ensembles gave the 'symbolic kick-off' to the festival, as part of their promotional tour. The ensemble led by Moroccan vocalist Marouane Hajji was the first to take the stage and envelop the audience with folk and classical Moroccan melodies.
He was followed by the Jerez-born cantaor Jesús Méndez, accompanied by guitarist Miguel Salado and his ensemble, who after their performance offered the audience a Spanish-Moroccan fusion.
The Fez World Festival of Sacred Music will be held from 9 June to 12 June and will also organise a series of conferences and events based on architecture and its connection with the sacred and with music. This connection between architecture and the sacred is one of the pillars of this 26th edition of the festival, as its artistic director, the Frenchman Bruno Messina, explains.