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Nereo XXI

The report of the European Parliament (A5-0175/2002) on the relations between the European Union and the Arab Maghreb Union and the establishment of privileged cooperation, emphasizes the importance of intercultural dialogue not only between states, but also between the different cultural communities existing in the EU member states and the Maghreb countries; considering the development of sustainable tourism that respects and preserves ecological diversity and protects cultural heritage, which can play an important role in achieving this objective, reactivating cooperation between Western Mediterranean countries and recommending that community institutions concentrate collaboration initiatives between Morocco and the European Union.

The musical culture of the Maghreb is an amalgamation of Arab, African, and European influences that has developed over centuries of cultural and commercial exchange in the northern African region, and its music is varied and rich in genres, instruments, and rhythms. Among the most popular genres are Andalusian music, chaabi music, rai music, gnawa music, Berber music, and Sahrawi music. Andalusian music has its roots in the period of Muslim presence in Spain and is a genre that is characterized by the use of instruments such as the violin, oud, or qanun, being an expression of the identity and cultural diversity of the region, and a means of transmitting traditions and values of its communities throughout the centuries.

Cultural relations between Spain and the Mediterranean are identified in these musics in countries such as Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, and combine a multitude of elements that share tradition and history with the origins of Western medieval music.

Andalusian music has its origins in the Spanish Umayyads, who preserved the tradition inherited from Damascus. During this period, the qainas were slaves who performed compositions with alternation of two types of versification: the sinad (long verses) and the hazajd (short verses), accompanied by instruments such as the zither, flutes, tambourines, and grallas.

The arrival of Ziryab in 822 revolutionized the panorama of Andalusian Arabic music. He had fled from Damascus due to the envy his teacher, Ishaq Al-Mawssili, felt for the fame our musician had acquired in Syria. Ziryab took refuge in Cordoba and introduced Persian-orientalizing musical elements into the Hispano-Arabic Umayyad court, which had already been incorporated into the Arab musical tradition of Medina and Damascus, to which Ziryab belonged. Ziryab’s musical renewal in Cordoba is the starting point of Andalusian music.

From a theoretical and aesthetic point of view, and generally considered in Islamic territories, Muslim treatise writers inherit the Greek tradition. The most important ones are the Uzbek Abu Nassyr Al-Farabi (10th century), Safiuddin Al-Urmaui (13th century), the Hispanic-Arabic treatise writer Ibn Sina (Avicenna, 11th century), who follows Al-Farabi in his work Al-Sifa. His music is condensed into three musical forms: the Nawba, the moaxaja, and the zejel. During the Andalusian era, favorable circumstances were created to absorb the different cultural components of the peoples of the medieval Mediterranean. Musically, this phenomenon crystallized with music that was able to absorb and synthesize the ancient Iberian music, Nordic music, Byzantine music, and Oriental Arab music.

In this context, and since its inception, the Cultural Foundation Capella de Ministrers has created a development education project, an educational process aimed at promoting global citizenship that generates a culture of solidarity committed to the fight against poverty and exclusion, as well as promoting human and sustainable development through the knowledge of competencies, values, and attitudes related to solidarity, social justice, and human rights. An educational process in which we consider it necessary that the actions carried out through development education are part of planned and targeted projects for different audiences, whether in educational and university centers, leisure spaces, awareness-raising communication media, education/training, research, and social participation.

Thus, within the strategies of the Cultural Foundation CdM, the Nereo XXI project was born (Nereo was an ancient god of the sea, son of the gods Ponto and Gea. He is recognized in Hesiod’s Theogony as an emblem of calm and prosperous sea, and called by Homer as the guardian of the sea) with the fundamental objective of promoting mutual knowledge and bringing together Spain and the rest of the countries in the Mediterranean basin through their classical and traditional music from each region. The proposal encourages performances that contribute to better knowledge between the societies of the countries on the shores of the Euro-Mediterranean region and enhance Spain’s external action in these countries, as well as contributing to improving Spain’s image in these countries. Likewise, it promotes the development of Spain’s relations with the countries in the region with which we have historical ties, in the institutional and cultural fields, and strengthens friendship ties. With Nereo XXI, the development of a specific program of cooperation, solidarity, and non-discrimination values among new generations and legal and real equality between men and women are promoted, from music to the backbone of the diversity and richness of each musical culture of the Mediterranean basin. The proposal aims to reach the 23 countries of the Mediterranean basin (Albania, Algeria, Bosnia, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, Slovenia, Spain, France, Greece, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, and the former Yugoslavia), with a special sectoral impact in the Maghreb countries.

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The academic dimension of Capella de Ministrers, under the artistic direction of Carles Magraner, is condensed in the realization of Early Music Morella, where tradition and cultured music, musical practice and theory, cultural heritage, and quality tourism have been combined since its first edition in 2012. Early Music Morella is an International Course and Festival of Medieval and Renaissance Music specialized in the musical heritage of the 10th to the 16th centuries, born out of the lack of studies and the need for dissemination of this unique repertoire, the priority of offering cultural excellence tourist activities for all audiences, and that make sense together with the richness of our historical-artistic heritage. In this environment and for the past five years, the Nereo XXI project has been implemented, whose main objectives are, based on the aforementioned, the integration of young musicians from Mediterranean countries, especially from the Maghreb, aimed at the education, training, and research of Andalusian and medieval music, especially those that were part of a joint past. All of this with criteria of North/South integration and collaboration. To this end, artistic residencies are developed in Spain with students from these countries to create an artistic unity that shows the result of cooperation in various international scenarios, going from being an individual experience of recognition of human values, from equality and international rights, to a collective proposal for development and dissemination through culture.