Special Podcast: Orchestra of Tetouan, live (First aired on Tues. 9/22/09)

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Orchestra of Tetouan, Morocco, performs classical Arab-Andalusian music live in our studio. The north Moroccan port city of Tetouan, just a few dozen miles by sea from the southern tip of Spain, became a refuge for Sephardic Jews and Muslims escaping the demise of the culturally rich Al-Andalus and the fall of Granada (the last Muslim city in Spain), in 1492. The music comes from centuries before that – as far back as the 9th Century - and can be traced to an Afro-Arab musician and poet, Ziryâb, a descendant of Persian slaves of African heritage. The Orchestra of Tetouan is still versed in the form of Andalusian classical music, the nawbat, a vocal and instrumental suite, which also incorporates European classical string instruments, like violin and viola. All members of the ensemble sing the centuries-old breathtaking love poetry with its complex beats and fluid melodies. Here's an excerpt of the text in translation- "Your absence has increased my yearning and sleep has deserted my eyes. My character is still tender, until love makes it mortal."

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