Public Programs And Events

Gnaoua Festival Tour 2017: An Evening of Traditional Gnawa with Maalem Abdeslam Alikkane

Gnaoua Festival Tour 2017: An Evening of Traditional Gnawa with Maalem Abdeslam Alikkane

Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall
General Public 

As part of city-wide celebration of the 20th anniversary of the world-renowned Moroccan Festival Gnaoua et Des Musiques du Monde in Essaouira, Morocco, Maalem (master) Abdeslam Alikkane will present an evening of traditional gnawa focused on highlighting his mastery of the guembri along with his kouyo (chorus) on vocals and qraqeb (castenets) in a more intimate and intense performance.
Gnaoua World Tour 2017 is presented in collaboration with Lincoln Center, the Yerma Gnaoua and The Festival Gnaoua et des Musiques du Monde Essaouira.  The tour is made possible by support from OCP,GroupeTV5MONDE, the Moroccan Embassy in the USA and Momex. Additional support provided by the Moroccan National Office of Tourism. Decoration for this event provided by Imports from Marrakesh.

A fraternity hailing from Africa

The Gnaoua fraternity was constituted from populations originating from Black Africa, mainly comprised of slaves and their descendants. Gnaoua are a fraternity practicing ritual possession of a mystical and therapeutic nature which might have been inherited from sub-Saharian animist cults.

According to few old and knowledgeable Gnaouis, music and Gnaoua rituals would share common origins with Voodoo, Cuban Santeria and Brazilian Candomblé. These practices then evolved adapting to their local settings to ensure continuity.

Gnaoua, masters and disciples, black and white, men and women, all live this cultural, artistic and spiritual experience both through the practice of ritual expressions as well as in everyday life in general.

The Gnaoua setting consists of master musicians, instrument players (three-string guembri lute, qarqabu metal castanets, tbal drum), fortune-telling therapists (chouwafate), mediums and simple followers. Together they practice a syncretic possession rite (called lila de derdeba), which combines at the same time the cultural contributions of Black Africa, the Arab-Muslim civilization which came from the East as well as the indigenous Berber cultures. During the lila, the adepts take part in rites of possession.

The music has been cited as an influence on numerous jazz and blues musicians, Ornette Coleman, and Pharaoh Sanders, along with British rockers Peter Gabriel and Robert Plant, and most notably Randy Weston, an early and steadfast champion of gnaoua who helped introduce the music to western audiences.

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