The third largest city in Morocco and home to both a UNESCO world heritage site and the largest contiguous car-free urban area, Fez plays host to a much larger gathering, the annual Festival of World Sacred Music. It's this festival that is celebrated in the documentary Sound of the Soul, featuring renowned musicians including Nass El Ghiwane, Anuna, Katia Guerreiro, and Farida Mahwash and the Kabul Ensemble.
The film recently aired on Link TV as part of their Global Spirit series, which you can watch online. Which may be a great way to catch some of the spirit of Fez if you can't get to North Africa for this year's festival June 4-12. Or get the movie and experience some of the magic of Fez for yourself, with the DVD, which is subtitled "Taking Humanity to a Higher Note."
In addition to the main film, which runs 68 minutes, the DVD's special features include uncut festival performances, interviews with audience members, two interfaith dialogue segments, a "spiritual action guide," and more.
Can a Muslim country really host such a strongly interfaith gathering, and promote cooperation among musicians and others from different faith traditions? In a New York Times interview, Dr. Faouzi Skali -- one of the founders of the festival -- attributes this openness to the Sufi brand of Islam. Dr. Skali recently organized a new festival focusing specifically on Sufi traditions.
This is a form of Islam that is very open to other cultures. If people can visit a medersa and listen in several languages to discussions of Sufi poetry, calligraphy and music, they will have understood something about the soul of Islam. And the soul of Fez
The DVD may not give you the smells and tastes and full ambiance of the city around the festival, but it's a nice teaser for those of us hoping to attend one day.
More on the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music: