LOVEfest: The Beloved Shall Not be Named is a musical response to hate crimes that uses exceptional performances to create positive curiosity and appreciation of Sikh and Islamic life. The program features art forms that use age-old symbols of love to express a myriad of passions. In Eastern art there is a vibrant tradition of using erotic love as a metaphor for passions of all sorts. Reminiscent of the conventions of love poetry, the melancholy of the unrequited lover can be ascribed to the person praying for divine love or the revolutionary fighting against social injustice. The Beloved may be identified not just as an actual lover but also as God, one’s country, its people, or freedom itself.
Employing three music groups and one dance group, LOVEfest will take the audience on an epic journey that includes Temple music of Sikh India; modern Indo-Canadian music fused with desert blues; Arab music intersecting with Western sounds; and mesmerizing whirling dervishes of Egypt. LOVEfest will for the first time in North America, offer Sikh spiritual songs presented outside of the Sikh temple from Bhai Kabul Singh. Similarly, LOVEfest will also offer Tanoura Sufi dance from the Abul Gheit Whirling Dervishes of Egypt, an art form largely unseen largely unseen in North America to date. Contrasting these two time-honored art forms will be two contemporary musical groups led by females: Kiran Ahluwalia — a Canadian Grammy Award winning vocalist, whose songs speak of the human condition as it relates to love and loss; and Souad Massi, one of the most recognized singer-songwriters from the Arab world, who writes politically-inspired songs about freedom, creativity, and tolerance (considered hallmarks of early Muslim civilizations). See Bios below
Sikh Spirituals by Bhai Kabul Singh
The spiritual songs of the Sikhs – known as Kirtan – are a music tradition hidden from most of the world. These mystic melodies and powerful rhythms are performed only in Sikh Temples. LOVEfest brings this sacred music to the concert stage for the very first time. The Bhai Kabul Singh trio of tabla, two harmoniums and three voices originates from the holy Golden Temple in Amritsar India. The group is currently based in Canada where they immigrated as political refugees in the 1980s.
Born in Algeria, residing in France, Souad Massi is the most successful female singer-songwriter in the Arabic speaking world. Her songs speak of freedom in Africa and the Arab world and of the creativity and tolerance that was the hallmark of early Muslim civilizations. Her new project at this festival will be an all female trio of voice, cello and luth.
Abul Gheit Whirling Dervishes
Tanoura is Sufi dance from Egypt. It is performed by men who spin continuously in the dervish style. This dynamic spinning is augmented with upper body movement and peeling off layers of colorful skirts. The circular movement is based on the philosophy that all movement in the world begins at a certain point and ends at the same point. The program will have two dancers and 3 musicians.
Kiran Ahluwalia is a two time JUNO (Canadian Grammy) winner. Rooted in Indian and Pakistani music her songs are heavily influenced by African desert blues and jazz. She sings of divine love in the form of Sufi mysticism and yearning sensual love in the style of her progressive Indian music. Her 5-piece group includes electric guitar, electric bass, tabla and accordion and voice.