Babel Méd Music 2013 Sets High Bar

Mariem Hassan, the great Diva of Babel Med 2013 - Photo by Lucia Dominguez
Mariem Hassan, the great Diva of Babel Med 2013 – Photo by Lucia Dominguez
The 9th edition of Babel Méd Music – Forum des Musiques du Monde music conference took place March 21-23 in Marseilles (France), consolidating itself as the second largest world music congress in Europe, after WOMEX.

This year, the forum was set in the context of Marseilles as European cultural Capital for 2013. This led to an increase of 1000 additional concertgoers with over 16.000 spectators during the three nights of the event. The Babel Méd Music trade fair had over 164 booths (stalls), 1 more than last year. Registered participants were the same as in the past two years, with 2.500 registrations.

The venue for the Forum was the same as in previous occasions, the Dock-du-Suds. The industrial warehouse renovated for new uses is located near the new port, in an area of modern buildings and new hotels, where you can partially see the great urban renewal that this part of town is experiencing.

Quebecois group De Temps Antan, one of Babel Med's highlights
Quebecois group De Temps Antan, one of Babel Med’s highlights
During this edition, concerts took place in four stages. The largest of all was “Salle des Sucres”, which showcased the large format acts. In the same building, the “Cabaret” space was located next to the projection room, restaurant, bars and areas reserved for VIPs. This was the venue for acoustic and intimate concerts. The other two stages were situated under two large tents outside the building.

The conferences and round tables this year totaled 18 and registered the same expectation as the ones in previous years with the same quality and anticipation as far as content and the selection of its speakers. The most interesting included the presentation of NGO Freemuse, the Project of artistic exchange and cooperation between European regions, and the current troubles affecting Malian musicians caused by the war in their country.

Of all the acts that played Thursday, March 18, I’d ike to highlight the performance by Quebecois group De Temps Antan, because of their energy, great melodies and rhythms created with only three acoustic instruments. Also notable was the spectacular concert by The Alaev Famly from Tajikistan. Other artists who deserve attention were the disturbing Italian singer-songwriter Vinicio Capossela, the unique vocals of Guinean singer Sia Tolno and Spanish group Coetus, led by Eliseo Parra.

The artistic activity on March 19 was undoubtedly the best of the entire program. I’d like to mention four outstanding artists: the virtuosity of Turkish trio Taksim Trio; the sensibility of the duo formed by Senegalese kora master Ablaye Cissoko and German trumpeter Volker Goetze; the musical poetry of Iranian singer Mohammad Motamedi; and lastly, Saharawi singer Mariem Hassan. With her great personality she became the undisputed Diva of Babel 2013. Also worth mentioning is Hungarian quintet Söndörgö.

Of all the concerts that took place on Saturday, March 20, Albanian singer Elina Duni stood out. Her voice, accompanied by three refined Swiss musicians performed a fine concert fusing traditional Albanian music with the best of contemporary music. Another group that stood out was the multicultural collective from Marseilles called Cie Rassegna.

There were many other groups from various countries, primarily ethnic pop bands. This demonstrated the great balance carried out by the organizers between high quality selected showcases and festive music.

I only have compliments for this 9th edition of Babel Méd Music, especially because of its acoustic music side.

During the final press conference, executive director Mr. Bernard Aubert, artistic director Mr. Sami Sadak and the forum’s delegate general Ms. Florence Chastanier, spoke to the media with professional pride, summarizing the great development of the conference this year and its widespread approval.

I think that the high bar set this year by Babel Med will bring even more relevance in future years.

Author: Albert Reguant

Albert Reguant is a Catalan journalist, born in Barcelona. He is a member of the workshops of folk music and world music of the European Broadcasting Union (UER/EBU) as well as well as a member of the “World Music Charts Europe”. He has a radio show called Les Rutes del So at Ona Sants Montjuïc de Barcelona.


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