Casablanca celebrates twelve centuries of Moroccan history
By Hassan Benmehdi for Magharebia in Casablanca – 04/06/08
Over a hundred Amazigh and Arab musicians came together last Thursday (May 28th) in the large and spectacular gardens of Méchouar to celebrate Morocco’s 1200 years of existence.
Organisers regard the on-stage fusion between two thousand-year-old musical traditions-- namely the Arab –Andalusian style of Al Alla and Amazigh--as a first in the history of Morocco. The effort required long months of rehearsal and work.
"These festivities represent a celebration for the whole population of a Morocco which is building its future and consolidating its position in the modern world, while still remaining proud of its past and its culture in all its many facts,…Amazigh, Arab-Andalusian, African, Mediterranean, Muslim and of course Jewish," Morocco 1200th Foundation executive director Ahmed Benseddik told Magharebia.
The Casablanca event is part of a series celebrating "Twelve centuries in the life of a Kingdom", and taking place throughout the country and around the world. Celebrations kicked off in Fez and will move to Marrakech next.
Casablanca called on more than 120 Amazigh and Arab musicians with well-established artistic careers, including Mohamed Briouel, Abderrahim Souiri, Idriss Bennis, Larbi Gharnati, Ahmed Ghazi, Khalid El Masmoudi, Outaleb Lmazoudi, Ali Aït Bella, Lhoucine Oubihi and Haj Aarab Itiki. Celebrated Amazigh artist Omar Amehrir co-ordinated the group.
Conductor Mohamed Briouel said that great efforts were made to meet the challenge of fusing two ancestral musical genres that are still very much alive.
"Fusing Arab-Andalusian and Amazigh music in fact symbolises Morocco, which is pluralist and enriched by its cultural diversity," said Mouad Jamaï, Secretary General of the Wilaya of Casablanca, describing the two genres as illustrations through music of two pillars of Moroccan civilisation.
The evening saw various musical tableaux as well as photo and video projections. At the end of the show, a giant human mosaic featuring 12 craftsmen was projected onto the Méchouar building.
"This evening, we have discovered a Moroccan harmony which is full symbolism and meaning," said Ibrahim, who was one of 1,000 guests in attendance.
"The artists and craftsmen have recalled our rich cultural memory, which we must safeguard at all costs," Sophia told Magharebia.
Organisers said Morocco is working, through these events, to bring the Kingdom’s historic, civilisational and cultural legacy alive for the public and tourists alike.
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