By John Owoo
(In Tunis – Tunisia)
The 2017 edition of Carthage Music Festival opened yesterday with a magnetic performance by Tunisian singer Raoundha Abdallah at Palais des Congrès in the Tunisian capital Tunis.
With a dramatic blend of tradition and innovation, Abdallah swayed the near capacity audience through a beguiling demonstration of stagecraft, poise and a formidable ability to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.
Accompanied by drums, guitars, flutes, keyboards and other instruments, Abdallah exhibited exceptional energy and ebullience as she acknowledged cheers from the audience, who were equally charmed by dancers who showcased raw skill in Tunisian traditional dancing laced with some contemporary elements.
Employing Bedouin and sub-Saharan rhythms from Mali and Niger, Abdallah delighted the crowd with compositions that are diverse yet with their hearts firmly embedded in Tunisian rhythms and culture.
Opened by Dr. Hamdi Makhlouf, director of Carthage Music Festival with support from the Tunisian Minister of Culture Mohammed Zine El Abidine, Carthage Music Festival is organized by the Tunisian National Organization for the Promotion of Festivals, Cultural and Artistic Events under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture.
It will feature over thirty music groups and artists from diverse African countries including Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Central African Republic, Gabon, Senegal, Mozambique and The Gambia as well as experts from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Europe.
Members of a jury for an official competition include guitarist / composer Mamdouh Bahri, composer / producer Rabii Zammouri, poet Raja Chebbi (all from Tunisia), Egyptian composer / violinist Yasser Abderahmane, Syrian singer / songwriter Lena Chamamyan and Burkinabe rapper / political activist Smokey.
The professional jury members are Amani Semaan (Festival Beirut & Beyond – Lebanon), Brahim El Mazned (Visa for Music – Morocco), Habib Dechraoui (Festival Arabesques – France), May Mostafa (El Genaina – Egypt) Omar El Ayat (Wasla Music – Dubai) and Raed Asfour (Festival Al-Balad – Jordan).
A Creative Child category jury members comprise Tunisian pianist / musicologist Mehdi Trabelsi, Lebanese singer Re-mi Bendali, Tunisian music rights advocate Soulef and yet another Tunisian musician Wahid Triki.
The festival will also feature a Musical Industries Trade show, which is one of its main themes. Its objective is to exhibit and promote the production of all players in the music field.
Currently on display, it offers the public several booths through which visitors will have the opportunity to discover the techniques of making musical instruments, specialized works and research in the musical sciences of Tunisian and Arab participants.
Under the direction of musicologist Prof Ridha Ben Mansour, a competition will be organized for children between the ages of 8 and 14 in two musical disciplines – instrumental and vocal interpretation. This is aimed at discovering talented children and nurturing them to develop their skills.
Sybel, Tunis Air, Ben Jemåa Motors, Travel Todo, Institut Français, Samaris Events, Africable, Bitaka Group, Teskerti, RFI, TUNIS Visions and many others are supporting the festival, which ends on Saturday April 15.
Wiem Ben Amor