(Five Songs)

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The 2014 archive

Fabrizio Cassol

AlefBa © Fred Pauwels


AlefBa, created for the festival of Aix-en-Provence in 2013, is a “street oratorio” imagined by Fabrizio Cassol. This meeting of cultures brings together eleven musicians from Europe, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and the United States. A collective process of musical research, it gave birth to a new musical form combining the microtonal intervals of the maqams with those of European music, the rhythms of jazz and rock with those of the music of the Middle East. At Royaumont, AlefBa functioned like a membrane vibrating along with the waves coming from Tahrir Square in Cairo: during rehearsals, the Egyptian musicians were receiving news of the demonstrations on their cell phones.

Saxophoniste de formation, Fabrizio Cassol s'est fait une spécialité des expériences musicales transculturelles, connectant des langages artistiques différents. En 1992, il forme l'ensemble Aka Moon et entame une série de voyages d'études. Ses rencontres se transforment parfois en véritables collaborations, comme avec Luc Bondy, l'ensemble Ictus, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, TG Stan... Avec Alain Platel, il cosigne vsprs et pitié ! revisitant les Vêpres à la Vierge de Monteverdi et La Passion selon Saint-Matthieu de Bach.

RB, avril 2014

Five Songs
Was Andalusia here or there? On the land or in the poem?*

*On our last evening on this land, by Mahmoud Darwish

While western music evolved around the concepts of polyphony and harmony, so-called Arab music, and more generally the music that developed in the Muslim world, has remained first and foremost vocal and melodic, faithful to the tradition of monody in which singing and the human voice play a central part, whether they are accompanied by instruments or not. This music is built around a rich system of melodic modes, called maqams, a term used by both Arabic and Turkish music, and which has endured mostly thanks to oral tradition. That music has evolved by coming into contact with different legacies and ancient cultures. It is “an impressive poetic and musical common core that still today allows improvisation, from Marrakech to Bukhara,” according to Frédéric Deval, director of the Transcultural Programme of the Royaumont Foundation. “The present is shattering this frame of reference, at least in part. The political fault lines in the Arab world also betray a deep shift in terms of sensibilities and aesthetics.” The Arab Spring, globalisation, and the internet all played and continue to play a part in the porosity one can find in the work of artists who upset cultural, linguistic or religious affiliations, but also legacies and practices of transmission of artistic knowledge. The result of a partnership with the Royaumont Foundation, Five Songs brings together five creations and that share a common approach, testifying of the possibility of a fertile hybridization between poetic and musical cultures.

Mustapha Laribi, April 2014


Artistic direction and composition Fabrizio Cassol
Artistic advice Fawaz Baker

With l'ensemble Aka Moon : Fabrizio Cassol (saxophone), Stéphane Galland (drum), Michel Hatzigeorgiou (fender bass)
And Khaled Aljaramani (oud, voice), Emmanuel Baily (guitar), Khaled Hafez (voice), Amir El Saffar (trumpet, santur, voice), Tcha Limberger (violin, voice), Magic Malik (flute, voice), Ahmet Misirli (derbuka), Mustapha Saïd (voice and oud)

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