Festival d’été francophone de Vancouver -Celebrating diversity and revitalizing culture through music – Ottoman Splendours

A rich world of francophone music and culture will be on full display at the 35th annual Festival d’été, or Francophone Summer Festival. This year’s festival features the music of Ottoman Splendours, a group that celebrates culturally diverse styles and forms.

“We believe that the programming we are offering you is a beautiful array, coloured with diversity, to mark a 35th anniversary,” says artistic director of Le Centre Culturel Francophone de Vancouver
Pierre Rivard.

The Festival d’été will take place from June 12 to June 22, where artists and spectators of all backgrounds are invited to over a week of lively concerts and performances. As one of the largest and most significant cultural and musical Francophone events in Western Canada, the festival will highlight over a dozen artists and performers and is free to the public.

Fortifying Francophile culture

This year’s Festival d’été marks Rivard’s 31st festival. Rivard says he’s pleased to have such a diverse lineup of artists from across Canada and wants to show audiences that it isn’t necessary to travel to Quebec to experience francophone culture. He wants to not only highlight the richness of francophone culture but also fortify the wide-spread existence of communities around British Columbia.

In light of recent news demonstrating that the population of fluent French speakers in Canada is diminishing, Rivard hopes the annual Festival d’été both spotlights the francophone community and invites more from abroad.

“We want to spread these wonderful opportunities to celebrate French language culture and music,” says Rivard.

Harmonies of diversity

Ottoman Splendours is composed of Lebanese-Canadian singer and oud player Lamia Yared and four fellow Canadians musicians: cellist Sheila Hannigan, clarinetist François Houle, percussionist Hamin Honari and guitarist Gordon Grdina. Predominantly taking inspiration from Turkish, Sephardic and classical Arabic music, Ottoman Splendours explores traditional music styles and rhythms distinctive to each culture, such as the maqam. Yared finds this is one of the driving forces of her passion about reviving traditional Middle Eastern music. Yared will also be singing in Arabic, Turkish and Farsi to further immerse the audience in the music.

“What propels me to work with my repertoire is my joy of singing the maqam, or the quarter tone, which is not usually used in Western music. This makes a big difference in the music experience, and I love rediscovering traditional pieces that haven’t been played in millennia,” says Yared.

Additionally, the ensemble features instruments with a heavy presence in Middle Eastern music such as the clarinet, common in Balkan folk music, and the Persian oud (short-neck lute) and tombak (wooden goblet drum), as well as the guitar and cello. The dialogue between the instruments explores the music shared from the Balkans in southeastern Europe to Anatolia and through Arabia in an original, innovative way. Yared encourages the audience to not only hear the music, but to listen and allow it to resonate.

Lebanese-Canadian singer and Oud player Lamia Yared. | Photo courtesy of Lamia Yared.

“Music should be listened to, heard, understood and received in a way that resonates with people,” she says.

Yared’s creative process is contingent upon who she plays with, where she works and the insights she receives on her repertoire. Each piece is not only an expression of self but an exploration into the past. Yared says she is impassioned by the emotions she can communicate through her musical mediums, and remains true to her goal of revitalizing tradition.

“I want to revive traditional music that is slowly disappearing because of factors such as war. I intend to keep the music in the memory of everyone while respecting the heritage it originates from,” says Yared.

Boundless music

While it is not Yared’s first time performing in Canada, it is her first time participating in Festival d’été. Yared says she is thankful for the curiosity and welcoming nature of the event and is excited to share her music with wider audiences. She hopes to continue connecting with artists and musicians internationally and is optimistic about where her musical journey
takes her.

“I’m happy to broaden my experiences and exchanges with musicians around the world, and I’m enjoying how my repertoire is reshaped with each exchange to innovate something new,” says Yared.

For more information please visit: www.lecentreculturel.com/en/festival-d-ete

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