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Festival Gnaoua


Essaouira Gnaoua & World Music Festival

World rhythms will take this 24th edition by storm,
as the Festival returns to the stage in traditional format

Essaouira, March 30, 2023. World musicians will descend once again upon the city of trade winds, at the invitation of their brothers, the Gnaoua Maâlems of Morocco. The Gnaoua & World Music Festival of Essaouira returns June 22-24, 2023, and promises—as it does every year—true moments of grace between fusion concerts, intimate lilas, improvised jam-sessions, and major discussions and exchanges.Avec sa traditionnelle parade d’ouverture, une quarantaine de concerts répartis entre la scène place Moulay Hassan et celle de la plage, les soirées plus intimistes dans les zaouias et au Borj Bab Marrakech, et le Forum des droits de l’Homme, le festival revient dans sa version coutumière.

With the traditional opening parade, forty-odd concerts between Moulay Hassan Square and the beach stage, intimate musical evenings at the zaouias and the Borj Bab Marrakech, and the Human Rights Forum, the Festival is back in its original version.

“Though we were forced to postpone the Festival for three consecutive years, the global crisis never slowed our momentum nor our determination. The Gnaoua & World Music Festival of Essaouira draws from its passion and perseverance. Today, more than ever, the preparations for this 24th edition are proof that this spirit of resilience has never left us”, signals Neila Tazi, producer and founder of the Festival.

Indeed, after two years of heavy silence imposed by the health crisis, the Gnaoua & World Music Festival of Essaouira and the Yerma Gnaoua Association were determined to honour the Gnaoua Maâlems and their induction into UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity List. On December 25, 2021, they organized an historic concert featuring 115 musicians on stage and broadcast by Al Aoula. In 2022, they held a major fusion tour that travelled to four of the Kingdom’s cities with the Maâlems, who were joined by major international musicians such as Vieux Farka Touré, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Piers Faccini, and Avishai Cohen.

On June 22-24, 2023, the Gnaoua & World Music Festival of Essaouira will celebrate once again the rich diversity of Gnaoua music and many other forms of world music. The sounds of guembri and crotales fill the air, combining with jazz in all its forms, flamenco, reggae, salsa, and Tuareg or Tamul rhythms. Audiences are invited to witness beautiful fusions, with an opening concert that already promises the moon, featuring the Tambours of Burundi Amagaba, the american saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, Moroccan singer Sanaa Amravati, and the Maâlems Mohamed and Saïd Kouyou.

Since its creation in 1998, the Gnaoua & World Music Festival of Essaouira has come to be known as one of the most significant cultural events in Morocco and on the continent. The Festival’s program is targeted in a way that is coherent yet accessible, and each year attracts thousands of visitors—including artists, cultural actors and intellectuals—from every corner of the globe. Driven by its fundamental philosophy and the spirit of sharing and discovery, the Festival offers a truly unique experience that is as spiritual as it is artistic.

The Gnaoua & World Music Festival of Essaouira also represents the opportunity to initiate discussions on subjects of global interest. This year, the Forum has chosen the theme of “Identity and Belonging”, a red-hot issue in a world shaken by identity-related tensions and the rejection of otherness. Artists, intellectuals, thinkers, and political, community and cultural stakeholders will come together in Essaouira to advocate for and reinvent a world based on solidarity.

The Festival is also proud to present a series of music workshops for young people and older, to discover and learn about Gnaoua music: its instruments, rhythms, and history. This is a unique opportunity for visitors to fully immerse themselves in Moroccan culture, and expand their awareness of the country’s musical heritage.

The Gnaoua & World Music Festival of Essaouira is eager to host this new edition, to welcome the return of loyal music lovers and new visitors from Morocco and beyond, and to offer them a truly one-of-a-kind cultural experience.

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