The International Samaa Festival for Spiritual Music and Chanting opens in Cairo
CAIRO: A full moon, the majestic Saladin Citadel and an invigorating Saharan breeze welcomed the International Samaa Festival for Spiritual Music and Chanting on Saturday. Musicians from 12 countries performed traditional songs representative of their people and culture, under the direction of festival founder Intessar Abdel Fattah.
A red carpet lined with young men and women dressed in traditional Egyptian costumes greeted the hundreds of people who attended the concert. Off to the side, there was a small bazaar where attendees could buy crafts from different countries.
Intessar Abdel Fattah is both the organizer of Samaa Festival and the manager of the Sufi ensemble of the same name. This year marks the sixth anniversary of the celebration of peace through music, although last year’s festival was cancelled due to the political situation.
The festival invites musicians and singers “from any country, no matter their language, religion or nationality,” said Abdel Fattah to The Cairo Post. This year featured participants from China, Albania, Indonesia, Tunisia, Russia, Greece, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Pakistan, Morocco and Yemen. “Music comes from the heart,” he said. “That´s all that matters.”
The concert opened up with the two Egyptian ensembles present, which combined Sufi and Christian music into one beautiful melody, capturing Egypt´s own diversity. For the next two hours, eleven countries raised their voices to the rhythms of their traditional sounds. The presence of each nation´s identity materialized through their music and chants.
¨The only way to achieve peace is through dialogue,” said a musician for the Greek ensemble. “This festival is dialogue,” he added. Throughout the night, the audience joined in with the musicians, clapping their hands to the beat of the powerful chants. “As performers, we feel the connection,” said Noor, a member of the Indonesian ensemble. “We are here to carry the message of peace to everyone, no matter their religion,” he said.
“Our music is very different from Islamic music,” said a member of the Chinese ensemble. “Our songs are Taoist, yet we both sing religious music from the heart,” he said.
The festival last until until Nov. 21st and it is free of charge.