By Houda Trabelsi
From Sufi songs to hip hop and salsa, music fans will soak up all kinds of rhythms at this year’s Festival de la Medina in Tunis, which kicked off on Sunday (July 22nd).
The 30th edition of the annual event runs through August 15th and coincides with the holy month of Ramadan.
The festival features 11 Tunisian and six foreign performances, festival director Zoubeir Lasrem said at a July 14th press conference.
The offerings include tarab and Sufi music, folklore, religious chants, rock, mambo, salsa, hip hop and flamenco.
Tunisian Amina Srarfi and her El Azifet band, which celebrates its 20th anniversary, will inaugurate the festival in the Municipal Theatre with their performance entitled “Azwawa”.
The show aims to “be a mirror reflecting the Tunisian and Algerian heritage, which features several musical genres, ranging from Malouf and folklore to Algeria’s Kabylie and rai”, according to Srarfi.
Maghreb art will be prominent throughout the opening ceremony and other concerts, with the presence of Moroccan singer Rachid Gholam, famous for his religious chants.
The current session, which is organised by Tunis municipality and the Ministry of Culture in co-operation with Nessma TV, plans to highlight the contribution of Tunisian artists.
Hassan Dahmani will bring Tunisian and oriental touches to the festival on July 23rd, and Lotfi Bouchnak will give a concert inspired by the genuine Arabic musical heritage on July 28th. Ahmed Jelmam will perform spiritual Sufi songs on August 2nd.
The event will conclude with a tarab concert by Tunisian artist Sofia Sadok.
Among other performers are Zied Gharsa, Abir Nasraoui, Leila Hjaeij, Iqbal Jemni and Najet Attia.
Foreign artists include Rick Le Fever with a rock show inspired by Elvis Presley and Turkish singer Lotfi Bolat. Cuban orchestra “Mambomania” and Columbian artist Vanny Jordan will bring touches of Latin-American music mixed with African rhythms.
“Whoever says Ramadan in Tunisia will say Festival de la Medina,” Marwen Chnib told Magharebia. “I’m impatiently waiting for this annual event because the music in this festival is refined and classical on the one hand, and Sufi and spiritual on the other. Both suit this holy month.”
The annual event will be organised in all provinces across the country.
It is “one of the best festivals in Tunisia”, Moatez Bez said. “It is distinguished from other festivals by the fact that it covers all areas of the country and is not a central festival restricted to the capital, which makes it successful.”
Mannoubia Chguir told Magharebia: “I love this festival because the ones who attend it are lovers of authentic art and refined music from all over the world. There is no place for shouting, dances or noises in Festival de la Medina.”