Monday, June 30, 2008
Moorish Spain - truly multicultural civilisation
Football doesn't feature here very often, but I have to record my delight at Spain's victory last night in Euro 2000. There is currently a refreshing vibrancy about Spain that is all the more remarkable considering that both Spain and its Iberian neighbour Portugal suffered under right-wing oppression for decades after the defeat of Fascist poster-boys Hitler and Mussolini.
The roots of Spain's creative vibrancy go back to the seven centuries of Arab rule from 711 to 1492, which gave rise to a truly multicultural civilisation in which three monotheistic religions and peoples of diverse origins lived in a harmony which should serve as an example in our terror-torn twenty-first century. In Andalucia the cities of Córdoba , Seville and Granada became great centres of cultural, artistic and religous activity in which music and the other creative arts flourished.
Three diverse elements came together to create the Moorish music of the region - Middle Eastern, North African Berber and native Iberian and these three elements also come together in a fascinating CD titled Jardin de Myrtes and inspired by Moorish music from Andalucia. It is played by the French ensemble L'Ensemble Aromates supplemented by Arab musicians. Although an exotic range of instruments is used there is no pretense of historic authenticity; this is a vibrant CD of Oriental music with Baroque touches mixed with Western music with Eastern touches. Highly recommended, and just one of many off-the-beaten-track delights in the innovative Alpha label's Les chants de la terre (Songs of the earth) series. .
More about the truly multi-cultural civilisation in Convivencia and in the story of the Sephardic Jews.
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