By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 2/21/2005 | 4:51 pm
A film inspired by the novel “Al-Khubz Al-Hafi” (For Bread Alone”) of the late Moroccan writer Mohamed Choukri will participate in the coming edition of Cannes International Film Festival.The main role of the film is played by the Moroccan International actor Saïd Taghmaoui.
The film, which was shot in Ouarzazate film studios in Morocco, is financed by Italians and will be presented in Italian to Cannes.
“For Bread Alone”, Choukri's autobiography, a classic and moving work, which has already been translated into more than ten languages, speaks for an entire generation of North Africans.
Born during a famine in the Rif mountains, Choukri moved with his family to Tangier. His childhood was spent in abject poverty; eight of his brothers and sisters died of malnutrition or neglect. During his adolescence, Choukri worked for a time as servant to a French family.
Following one of many family disputes, he left the house at the age of 11, embracing a life of homelessness and petty crime. He then returned to Tangier, where he experienced the violence of the 1952 independence riots. These early experiences provided him with material for his first and most famous book, “Al-Khubz Al-Hafi” (For Bread Alone) written in 1972 but not published in Arabic until 1982.
At the age of 20, he decided to learn to read and write classical Arabic - a decision that transformed his life. After mastering the language, he became a teacher and writer, finally being awarded the chair of Arabic Literature at Ibn Batuta College in Tangier. Choukri died of cancer in 2003 at the age of 64
By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 1/28/2005 | 6:22 pm
Algerian born Enrico Macias received a warm welcome in Morocco, where he performed for the first time, Jan 26, in Megarama complex in Casablanca. “I am deeply touched. I have performed in many countries, but I have never seen such a warm welcome as in Morocco,” said Macias. He added that Morocco reminded him of Andalucia where a melting pot of cultures and religions coexist with one another.
Macias's latest album 'Oranges amères' reflects his nostalgia towards his homeland. “Nostalgia is a theme that prevails in most of my song, and my latest Album talks about this,” said Macias.
As far as his performance in Algeria, Macias said that “he was deprived of singing in Algeria, because some felt that his life was in danger may be because of his Jewish background.”
“When I hear at the airport about passengers going to Constantine, I get sad, but I am confident that I will come back to Algeria one day,” added Macias.
Regarding his religious background, Macias said that “he was the first Arab to reveal his Jewish affiliation and he is proud of being so.”
Enrico Macias, whose real name is Gaston Ghrenassia, was born on Dec. 11, 1938 in Constantine, Algeria, to a Jewish family. He had a normal schooling, but also enjoyed music, particularly the guitar. His father was a violinist in the orchestra of Cheick Raymond Leyris, the great master of Maalouf, the Arab-Andalucian music unique to Constantine.
At 15, young Gaston was already a member of this prestigious orchestra, and soon became the heir-apparent to Cheick Raymond.
After finishing his studies in 1956, Macias applied for a post as a supervisor in a school. He did not stop, however, playing the guitar.
In June 22, 1961, Cheick Raymond was killed in Constantine. Young Gaston realized that exile was the only solution, and that he had reached the end of an epoch.
In 1961, he embarked on the "Ville d'Alger" for a new life in France, along with his wife Suzy, who was the daughter of Cheick Raymond. Leaving Algeria was a heart-breaking experience for him.
Arriving in Paris, he decided to take up a musical career. As a child prodigy of Maalouf music, he had to adapt to French tastes. He attempted to translate parts of the ethnic Maalouf music into French, but was not satisfied with the results. So he built up a personal repertoire based on his own experiences.
With Raymond Bernard of Pathé, he recorded his first album "Adieu mon pays". The words went “I've left my country, my house, my family and friends”. In October of the same year, he appeared on a television programme, 'Cinq colonnes à la une', reporting on the French citizens repatriated from Algeria, and "Pieds noirs" ("black feet" - because they wore black shoes) as they became known. This was the start of his fame.
In 1963, he began singing in public and made his first tour with Paola and Billy Bridge. He ended up starring with songs, such as "Enfants de tous pays" and "l'île du Rhône".
Running against the tide of Beatlemania, Macias witnessed a huge success. In 1964, he performed in the first half of the “Compagnons de la Chanson show” at the Olympia in spring. He then went on tour in France, as well as in Lebanon, Greece and Turkey, where he sang "Paris, tu m'as pris dans tes bras" and "les Filles de mon pays", which later became hits.
Although his original fans were the Pieds Noirs who recognized themselves in Macias' songs and saw him as a representative of their community, he also appealed to the general public, and his songs were liked by everyone.
In 1965 he was awarded the Prix Vincent Scotto and composed "les Gens du Nord" and "Non je n'ai pas oublié". The following year, he sang before 120,000 people at the Dinamo Stadium in Moscow. He also recorded songs in Spanish and Italian.
He was awarded a golden disc for his album "Melisa", for his beautiful song "Malheur à celui qui blesse un enfant". In addition to a series of concerts at the Olympia, he made a big tour in Japan, Israel and France. In 1978, he was invited to Egypt by President Anouar El Sadate. He sang before 20,000 people in the pyramids. His message was that of peace, with songs like "Aimez-vous les uns les autres".
The then Secretary General of the UN, Kurt Waldheim, awarded the singer the title of "Singer of Peace" in November 1981, after the singer had donated his royalties on "Malheur à celui qui blesse un enfant" to UNICEF.
This international recognition made the signer's success a personal one too. He brought out two more titles on the Trema label, his new recording company: "Juif espagnol" and "le Mendiant de l'amour".
In March 1985, Enrico Macias was awarded the Légion d'honneur, by French Prime Minister, Laurent Fabius.
His attachment to universal values such as peace and solidarity between peoples brought him a prestigious nomination in 1997, that of "Ambassador at large for peace and protection of children" by Kofi Annan, the UN General Secretary.
Enrico Macias played a concert to pay tribute to Cheick Raymond, his early master, at the “Festival of the Printemps de Bourges” in April 1999. He became determined to bring the Jewish-Arab culture back to life through his music.
In March 2000, Macias announced his desire to return to his homeland and play a series of concerts for Algerian fans. However, given the volatile political situation in Algeria, his bold project soon whipped up a storm of controversy. The Jewish singer declared his tour was motivated by a profound desire for peace and many saw the Algerian president's support as a sign of the country opening up after many long years of repression.
However, Macias was disappointed, because the tour dates were finally postponed for security reasons. Nonetheless, the singer remains firmly committed to the idea of returning to perform in his homeland one day.
This event motivated him to cooperate with Florence Assouline and write a book about his experiences. "Mon Algérie", published in October 2001, reflected a "real love story between one man and his homeland".
At the beginning of 2003, Enrico Macias released "Oranges Amères", his latest album produced by his son Jean-Claude Ghrenassia. Featuring the singer's come-back to the eastern sounds of his early career, the album also proposed lyrics conveying a pacific message. Also entitled "Oranges Amères" and penned by Marc Estève and Art Mengo, the first track set the subtle mix between tradition and modernity that ran throughout the rest of the album.
Macias performed many concerts in France and other countries in 2004 to promote his latest album "Oranges Amères".
By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 4/19/2006 | 3:18 pm
The “Choeur des Trois Cultures” (Choir of the Three Cultures), a musical group created in Spain, performed on Tuesday in the Rabat-based national theatre.
“Choeur des Trois Cultures”, was founded in Seville thanks to the determination and involvement of the Fondation des Trois Cultures (Foundation of the Three Cultures).
The group is made up of singers of different nationalities and religions. On Tuesday, they performed works in Arabic, Hebrew and Latin.
André Azoulay, president delegate to the “Choeur des Trois Cultures” foundation, also counselor of HM King Mohammed VI, told a press conference that culture is the best medium to promote dialogue in the highly complex Euro-Mediterranean social and political context.
He added that “this is clearly reflected in the concert performed by artists and musicians from different faiths (Muslims, Christians, and Jews).”
In the same vein, Gaspar Zarias, president of the foundation's committee, also advisor to the presidency of the Andalusian local government (Consejero de Presidencia de La Junta de Andalucía), expressed his satisfaction over the organization of this event.
He added that the foundation enjoys international esteem because it has become an efficient mechanism for dialogue of civilizations. Zarias also said that the foundation's projects reached 53 in 2005-2006 and that its budget rose from Euro 1.9 million to Euro 3 million.
The Foundation of the Three Mediterranean Cultures is a non-profit organization that in recent years has become the international benchmark for dialogue and respect to achieve peace and understanding amongst the people of the world, thanks to the exceptional nature of the patronage and its cultural activities.
It was established in 1999 under the aegis of the Andalusian Regional Government and the Kingdom of Morocco, who in 1998 broached the need to create a forum to bring together the people of the Mediterranean.
This proposal was favourably received by the international community, with the support of the Peres Centre for Peace, the Palestinian National Authority, and multiple Israeli and Euro-Mediterranean individuals and institutions committed to dialogue and peace.
The Foundation is headquartered in the Hassan II pavilion in Seville, a magnificent building that once housed the pavilion of Morocco during the Expo '92 at the Isla de la Cartuja.
Over the past seven years, this venue has become the space where Andalusia has promoted a broad range of public events aimed at fostering inter-faith, social, economic, cultural, and political dialogue, thus becoming a centre for greater understanding and tolerance, and friendlier relations in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 2/22/2005 | 4:09 pm
Moroccan Artist Sapho recently performed, during a show at the Olympia, Paris, a Moroccan version of John Lennon's famous song 'Imagine'. The song was translated into 'Darija' (Moroccan dialect) by Dominique Caubet, teacher of Maghreb Arabic at the National Institute of Languages and Eastern Civilizations.
The concert aimed to show solidarity with the French journalist Florence Aubenas and his Iraqi guide Hussein Hanoun, kidnapped in Iraq 47 days ago.
This concert was an opportunity for Sapho to express her feelings and to show her solidarity while performing this song, which was broadcast live on Monte Carlo radio for the Arab World.
"Imagine" was John Lennon's second major release apart from the Beatles. Released on Sept. 9, 1971 (US) and Oct. 8, 1971 (UK), it has remained John's most commercially successful album. It was recorded primarily in John's home studio which turned out to be the last time he would ever record in England.
By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 1/10/2005 | 12:38 am
Composer Azzedine Ouhnine, a Moroccan “Stevie Wonder”, stirred many souls when blending Moroccan music with Techno and Rap. He was born on October 1, 1967 in Salé. This talented musician, who spoke only Berber at the time, decided to learn Arabic, then French. Languages inspired him to discover more the culture of the others.
“Learning languages helped me a lot in my career. It gave me the inspiration and the desire to reflect the principles of cultural dialogue and tolerance in my works of art,” said Azzedine Ouhnine.
School cultural activities helped him face a large public for the first time. He decided, then, to join the National Conservatory of Music and Dance. He also became a member of the Rabat Choral, under the leadership of Louis Péraudin.
He took up the challenge of blindness by studying social and psychological sciences at the university. His studies at the department of philosophy motivated him to create The Ouhnine Group for Sounds and Music.
“The objective of the band was to reincarnate our musical heritage but with a new vision,” he explained. Ouhnine eventually realized his dream when he produced, in 2004, his new and special Album “Masafat” (Bridges), with the collaboration of the New York-based producer, bassist and visionary, Bill Laswell.
Laswell is responsible for some of the most interesting and influential recordings of the last 20 years. Unlike other sonic architects, he has no rulebook or pre-defined codes. Rather, Laswell works largely from instinct, which calls for fusing rock with tablas and reggae, ambience with noise, jazz with Moroccan trance music or all of the above.
“The Album clearly illustrates the idea of cultural dialogue. I wanted to make Moroccan music more known outside by mixing it with foreign sounds,” said Ouhnine.
He added: “Sound comes out of a life experience, so when you play something or manifest an idea through an instrument or sound, it's not just a transmission of sound from an invention which is the instrument. It has to do with a life experience, based on what you've become, what you've learned.”
In his Album, Ouhnine mixed different Moroccan sounds including Berber, Sahrawi, and popular Moroccan music with Techno and Rap. Through these mixes, Ouhnine hopes to satisfy the needs of young people who are always eager for any new musical trend.
The Album is composed of 14 songs, including “Srir F'Al Houbb”, “Ya Nass”, “Takassim”...
“It was called “Masafat” because it aims at bridging distances between Moroccan and foreign composers, and blending Moroccan music with other different sounds,” said Ouhnine.
The Album was recorded at Sama Master, Casablanca, and at Orange Music in New Jersey.
Ouhnine has a forthcoming collaboration with Arabic poet Inas Rachid Zahrani. The project is composed of 20 songs of which 15 will be sung in Egyptian, four in Arabic (Khaliji), and one in Moroccan Arabic. According to Ouhnine, they will be sung by prominent Arab singers.