5 October - 12 December


Free admission (subject to availability and health restrictions)


Thur. 4 nov. - 18H30 - MEG 

Conference/concert presentation

par Hélène Sechehaye  

Being Gnawi in Brussels: Islam, Ritual and Music in a European Capital

This conference looks at the complex situation of musical practice within a Muslim community. Perpetually disapproved of because it is associated with immoral behaviour, music is nevertheless one of the central elements of the ritual of the Gnawa, a confraternal community originating from Morocco. In the Brussels diaspora, music occupies a very important place in the lives of the Gnawa, who devote themselves almost entirely to it. In addition to the rituals that feed their spirituality and the concerts that build bridges between different populations in the city, the Gnawa have gradually positioned themselves as the privileged performers of wedding repertoires in the Moroccan community. We will see how, living from and for music, the Gnawa of Brussels juggle these various activities and their contradictions, and transform the paradoxes by creating bridges between worlds.

Biography: Hélène Sechehaye has a doctorate in musicology from the Free University of Brussels and the Jean Monnet University of Saint-Etienne. Her thesis, defended in 2020, focuses on the musical practices of the Gnawa in the Brussels diaspora, research that she is now extending to Italy thanks to an Academia Belgica grant. In parallel, Hélène Sechehaye teaches several aspects of traditional music in the Rhythms and Rhythms department of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels and chairs the Belgian national committee of the International Council for Traditional Music.



Wed. 10 nov. – 18h – HEM


with Ingrid Le Gargasson (anthropolog) et Sangeetha Shankar(musician)

In the footsteps of the master: Hindustani music and transmission

Hindustani music is a learned music of oral tradition, which implies a long and demanding training under a master. In spite of notable developments, a set of precepts and conceptions remain attached to this traditional teaching from master to disciple, even within the framework of a family transmission, as this conference will reveal. Illustrated by the testimony of violinist Sangeeta Shankar, the presentation will also question the status of 'classical' artists in India and the challenges faced by young musicians embarking on an artistic career. 



Thur. 11 nov. - 18h30   - Alhambra, Genève


Directed by Yve Billon, 1992, 70’. Zaradoc film.

Benares - music from the Ganges

Benares, or rather Varanasi (in Hindi)... A city with huge staircases (ghats) leading to the Ganges, a city at the confluence of Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, which opens up multiple paths of spirituality. "A bath in the Ganges is worth years of yoga. "A single note of music played with accuracy is worth all the asceticism..." These are words that can be heard in the mouths of some Indian masters, but of course it is not just any immersion, any accuracy! Throughout this rich and intense documentary, Yves Billon's camera seeks to make us feel the mystery, because it is more important to feel than to understand. It invites us to the banks of the sacred river, to the maze of streets of Benares, to its mansions and ancient palaces, to meet exceptional musical personalities: the legendary oboist (shehnaï) Ustad Bismillah Khan - at the heart of the film -, the singer Girija Devi, the percussionist (tabla) Lacchu Maharaj, the violinist N. Rajam. A journey in and of itself, as a prelude to the concert by N. Rajam and his family.


Sa. 11 déc. - 18h30 – MEG, Genève

Conference/concert presentation

with Ana Koprivica 

The calling of the spirits in Afro-Cuban music

In Afro-Cuban repertoires, music structures the time of the ritual, creates emotion, but also participates in the induction and socialisation of the possession trance and the identification of the spirits (orichas, muertos). As ritual officiants, musicians creatively exploit melodic systems and rhythmic patterns associated with a wide range of musical genres and spirits. This lecture will illustrate how musicians adapt this skill to each context, allowing for a connection between people, while at the same time materialising this connection with an invisible world. In a way, music makes tangible what is considered elusive.