Friday, April 1, 2011
|Abd al-Lawi of Meknès (far left), wrapping up last night's event with a good dose classical Moroccan wit|
As soon as I walked into the wide hotel lobby, I recognized a number of musicians from the official radio station, people I had only met the day before. In good Moroccan custom, they approached me as an old friend, with wide, brightly lit smiles, excited that I was able to attend the show. I sat and spoke at length with some of the violinists, oud players, and singers who filled the stage, dressed in the clean lines of traditional jallabas and deep red fesses. Also in good Moroccan custom, the music failed to get underway until at least an hour after the scheduled time. (Similarly, the concert ended after 11:00, when the 7:00-9:00 written on the ticket was fading into distant memory.) Members of the group introduced me to visiting artists, explaining the not-so-subtle shifts forced upon them for the sake of their guests. Abd an-Nabi, for example, an upright bass player from the previous morning at the studio, opted to play cello, allowing an esteemed colleague from Meknès to step in on his preferred instrument.
|Mohammed Sousi and Abd al-Ali Talibi, comfortably chatting as the 'ud players prepare for the performance|
After a series of introductions and blessings, the music bursts from the speakers. Immediately cameras pop up from the crowd as seated spectators race to capture the moment with point-and-shoot videos or makeshift iPhone photography. The hum of conversation continues under the strength of the sound reinforcement.
|Abdellah Chakroun (center, facing away), the honored guest, receives one of his many congratulations and thanks during the intermission|
|Hiya bu-Khris takes the mic and commands the orchestra through her qasida|
|Mohammed al-Nahbiwi (third from the right), featured in "Dir ma'ya l-hsan"|
The evening was dedicated to researcher and author al-Ustad Abdellah Chakroun. He was the center of attention during a prolonged presentation between the second and third performers. Speeches, a short film, and awards found themselves directed toward one of the men to preserve and present the malhun, other Andalusian music, and, if I understood correctly, intellectual property law in Africa.
|Those who made it to the end were treated to high energy finales, enough to get people on their feet|
Mohammed Abd al-Lawi of Meknès closed the performances with a qasida, "Hasan al-Kharbiti," dripping with wit. As it begins: "Have you heard the poem about Hasan? The day of his wedding was coming..." Those to stuck it out to the end were rewarded with this story, poor Hasan's trials in preparing for his wedding night.
|Mohammed Sousi (center, grey jallaba) with the singers and event organizers from Club Khamis Tourat|