Alfonso X did not take into account the religion of the wise men when that was almost unthinkable “

Aziz Samsaoui is not only a renowned musician but also an award-winning cultural manager: GECA Award and SGAE 2020. At the time of the 6th edition of the Granada Ancient Music Festival (FMAG, which is held from May 17 to 30, (which It has not failed even in the two editions in a pandemic), talks about its projects that it details with a commitment and sensitivity within the reach of few.

-In the middle of the VI edition of the FMAG, what is the secret?



-There’s no secret. We do the Festival with the heart, that means that there is a love for this work. Whoever has love gives it and people receive it, and we are like that, we try to do things well and offer them to the city and the province. Sometimes it is difficult to achieve it, because mediating between institutions, the public, covid measures is complicated, but in the end things work out. The Festival is a child that grows among the population of Granada and is getting older. Let’s hope it gets to where it needs to go!

-The FMAG is safe culture. This year the tickets are very organized.

-Yes, this is a great novelty and we are very satisfied. Until now everything was free, the public kept their queue and entered, but the public remained in the street. If it was for free booking, we noticed that on too many occasions that those who had reserved tickets did not finally come. That is why we have organized everything through a platform on the Festival page. The price is 5 euros per ticket, really symbolic, but it has been a measure that has congratulated us a lot, since it avoids crowds. Everything is organized and above all avoids the uncertainty of being in a queue without knowing if you will finally enter a show. There was some montage like Capella de Ministrers something more expensive, but we already said, it has been a measure that we understand to be correct.

-What stands out from this edition?

-The truth is that each edition has its wonder, and this edition offers us a great commemoration, the legacy of Alfonso X the Wise, who was born eight centuries ago, in 1221. To this King, all the musicians who belong to this world of ancient music owe a lot to him for his more than 400 Cantigas de Santa María. But it was not only the King of Cantigas, it is an opportunity to vindicate a figure of someone who bet and financed culture, he was a great musician but also a wise astronomer, legislator, historian, and the pearl of his reign, like creation in Toledo of the School of Translators: he paid the Latinist, Christian, Jewish and Arab sages and created this imposing school in which all the knowledge of antiquity and Arab culture was translated into Spanish, and from there it served as a source for the entire known world. That enhanced all knowledge and Castilian as a great language.

-What is consolidated and what is surprising?

-In this edition, of which we are very happy with how it is developing, we continue with our conferences and concerts. We have also been able to manage that the winning groups of competitions specialized in Renaissance music and early Spanish music, such as Antiqua shape, winner of Classic Fest. The Festikids, dedicated to schools, institutes and conservatories, was also consolidated, as well as its Interpretation Contest. And we also highlight the production that we have presented, among the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, the Choir of the UGR we have recreated the Alfonsíes Tables and the astronomical world of Alfonso X with a concert with image, old music, incorporations of contemporary musicians and great actors in an original and beautiful Festival production.

-Why is it dedicated to Alfonso X the Wise?

-This king is a symbol, it was a difficult time, always at war on some flank, and nothing was easy. In fact, he had contradictions, he suffered pressure, but he created a court of wise men, of the best, regardless of their religion, at a time when that was almost unthinkable. He financed and hired the best, whether they were Christians, Jews, or Arabs. We understand that this is a true example of trying that coexistence. That is not a myth, that was a reality. Therefore, it is a milestone that we must highlight, because the result of that work, coexistence was demonstrated and there are its fruits, through its music, law, astronomy, etc.

-Is Granada City of Festivals a good idea? Implying?

-Yes, Granada is intellectual, and the heritage and the environment have a special flavor. It also has a large University and an immense population of young people training, that is why it deserves not only one Festival but many and all kinds, to offer all kinds of culture to all citizens, from old music, classical flamenco, world music . Furthermore, everything in Granada can be enjoyed in unbeatable settings.

-After the FMAG, until next year or will there be more?

-There may be news and a new cycle, but I have not revealed anything yet, so let’s think about finishing this edition well, resting and preparing the next one. There are still many institutions with “mieditis”, but it is necessary to gradually get out of this situation. Musicians need the public, giving a talk or a concert without an audience is something very cold that you cannot get used to, we live from the public and I think that we will have to advance in security, measures and the public.

-Any challenge for the future of the festival?

-It is a young Festival, with six editions, but with an attitude and dedication that impress. Hopefully we get more institutional support and be able to professionalize all this work and thus achieve greater recognition. All this with the certainty of having been in the most complicated moments and therefore hoping that when things go well, that will be rewarded and recognized.