A world of sound comes to Basel
The city of Basel is hosting a 10-day World Music Festival, featuring artists from as far afield as Algeria and Senegal. Two hundred musicians from the Islamic world are helping to spice up the event.
Lebanon's best-known singer, Fairuz, kicked off the event on Wednesday, with her first ever appearance in Switzerland. "Fairuz is not only one of the most popular singers in Lebanon, she is just appreciated in the rest of the Arab world", says Mahmoud Turkmani, a Lebanese musician at the festival.
Fairuz - along with the Rahbani brothers - helped shape current Lebanese song writing. Their songs find their roots in the Byzantine liturgy, Arab and Islamic music, but also incorporate Western influences.
Another highlight of the festival is an appearance by Algerian musician, Khaled. He is the best-known exponent of Raï music in the Western world and will be in Basel on Sunday to sing "Didi" and "Aïcha".
One singer who may seem a little out of place at the festival is David Byrne, the former lead vocalist of Talking Heads, one the quintessential 1980s bands. Byrne has been promoting world music ever since the break up of his band, as well as producing records of his own which take the listener off the beaten track.
Bands from Senegal, Pakistan, Egypt, Macedonia and Romania will also be strutting their stuff, along with musicians from both western and eastern Europe.
Audiences will also get to sample Oriental jazz, or take in the avant-garde sounds of Tandoori Space and Salon Oriental music.
To complete the international experience, the festival is planning to serve up exotic foods to visitors and to offer a number of musical workshops.
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