Last night was night five of the Beirut Spring Festival! The Festival started in 2009 by the Samir Kassir Foundation, inspired by Kassir himself, as one of the things he believed in was promoting tolerance and diversity through the arts and getting the public involved with free events. The week was made up of a lot of dancing, singing, and performances portraying a wide range of styles and messages as well as a lecture about the Arab Spring and films about life that speak to people across cultures.
Unfortunately I missed a lot of the events because I found out about them too late, but I managed to get myself up to speed in time for last night’s performance by Mercan Dede and the Secret Tribe. This group from Turkey fuses together Sufi and electro music, along with a whirling dervish, to create a captivating and unique show. Dede believes in the power of creating a universal language that speaks to everyone by blending natural sounds with the electronic. So while he hangs out with his DJ set, occasionally chiming In with a wooden flute, the Secret Tribe, made up of 4 members, play the kanun, clarinet, darbuka (drum), and a variety of other instruments.
I really loved the mix of the two, the organic and the electronic. The blending of new and old is definitely my favorite way of listening to traditional music. The performance itself was high energy and melodic, though it slowed down significantly when the dervish came on stage, but that’s just the nature of the whirling dervish dance music. It lasted for the perfect amount of time, too. By the time I was ready to leave they had just finished up their set. Based on the people I saw in the crowd, Dede is doing a really good job at accomplishing his goal of a universal language of music that speaks to everyone because I saw so many different type of people in the crowd, from ages to heritage to culture, everyone was represented.
I’m sure it also didn’t hurt that Samir Kassir Square has to be one of the coolest places in Beirut to host a lovely outdoor concert and the whirling dervish had a light up skirt. I wish I could find more stuff like this in Boston.