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Faculty of Music

Cambridge Festival: Music of Women and Birthing, 26-31 March 2021

The inaugural Cambridge Festival will be taking place this spring, from 26 March to 4 April 2021. Among the hundreds of scheduled events, Dr Vanessa Paloma Elbaz, Research Associate for ERC Project Past and Present Musical Encounters across the Strait of Gibraltar, will be curating a series of talks and an online panel discussion and workshop on the extraordinary tradition of Moroccan birthing songs.

Moroccan women's repertoires in the Maghreb, particularly those which are sung during marriage and childbirth, are at the heart of the sonic cementing of communal power for minority groups. Jewish music negotiates the tensions of resisting assimilation to both the Muslim majority and European colonial culture. Muslim and Jewish women's oral traditions have also been used to resist colonial powers and form a strong group identity within gendered spaces. Today, few people remember that these songs even exist. This series of talks and live events, featuring Cambridge academics and Jewish and Muslim cultural stakeholders from Morocco, will provide historic, linguistic, cultural and musicological context to the celebration of North African women's fertility through song.

Each day between 26 - 31 March, at 12pm, a new video will be premiered on the Faculty of Music YouTube Channel, given by: Dr Vanessa Paloma Elbaz, Ethnomusicologist (Faculty of Music); Noemie Hakim-Serfaty, filmmaker; Prof. Katharine Ellis, Musicologist (Faculty of Music); Dr Jonas Siboni, linguist (University of Strasbourg & INALCO); Houda Ougaddoum (Mimouna Foundation); Dr Samuel Everett, Anthropologist (CRASSH); and Hon. André Azoulay, Counsellor to the King of Morocco HM Mohammed VI.

The speakers will then join together for a live Q&A and workshop via Zoom on 31 March, where there will be a chance for participants to learn some of the songs. Register here for the workshop.

Further details can be found on the festival website.