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« Détours de Babel » Festival

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2013 - "REACHING FOR THE INFINITE"
Music & religion, the sacred and spirituality

Not a day goes by without conflicts and tensions of religious identity hitting the headlines: fundamentalism, blasphemy, posturing, the values of civilisation and more.

When the French writer and statesman André Malraux prophesied that if the third millennium were not religious it would not be, did he think that this dimension would become a battleground between the values of secularism and those held aloft by the apostles of a return to the religious in the public sphere and public debate?

This year’s festival tackles the sensitive relationship that different forms of music have with the sacred beliefs, religions and spiritual sensibilities to which they refer.

Every individual is entitled to his or her own beliefs, they are a personal matter. Every culture has its own traditions, its rituals and its cosmogony; its own explanation for the world, its origins and the mystery of life.

Religious, ritual and devotional forms of music, from here and from elsewhere, all stem from the melting pot that gave rise to their religion. They follow contemplation, rituals, collective feast days, celebrations, sanctuaries, ceremonies, essential parts of the individual and of the group that transcend belief, dogma and liturgy.

This festival is less about listening to them ‘religiously’ than about sharing their aesthetic riches, their creative force, their power to evoke the indescribable, the sacred, the spiritual, the things beyond understanding, the invention of a place beyond, which man has needed ever since he became aware of his own mortality.

By putting them on a stage, we are showing that they belong not to the different religions but to all of humanity. The challenge is to show what they have in common, their persuasive power, their sublimity often, which extends beyond the beliefs and
mythologies to which they refer.

In this case, the myth of the Tower of Babel, which “opens the sky” is not a parable of man’s vanity and lack of understanding towards his fellow man but an invitation to open up to our fellow human beings, to our differences, to the diversity of languages
of the members of a human race who stand side by side regardless of the basis for their spirituality.

Benoit Thiebergin

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