Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater announces the lineup for the third annual Habibi Festival. It will take place over six nights: Sunday, October 1, and from Tuesday–Saturday, October 3–7. Tickets are on sale here.
The festival represents a variety of cultures from the South West Asia North Africa (SWANA) region and returns in 2023 after two years of sold-out runs (in 2021 and 2022). Created to offer audiences a snapshot of contemporary and traditional music from the SWANA region, Habibi Festival aims to take listeners on a journey through the sounds wafting across the airwaves and into the living rooms of cities spanning Marrakech to Baghdad. Learn more about the 2023 artists here + find the full schedule below and here.
Habibi Festival is curated by saxophonist/composer/curator Yacine Boulares, artist/curator/producer Meera Dugal, and Director of Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, Alex Knowlton, who are bonded by the goal to create more joyful spaces for performances and perspectives from artists rooted in the SWANA region.
In discussing the festival, Boulares, and Dugal said, “We want Habibi Festival to make New York’s SWANA diaspora community feel a sense of pride and connection to their roots as well as reach audiences who are experiencing these sounds and traditions for the first time and now have a joyful and magical touchpoint in their conception of the Arab world.”
They conclude, “Our immigration system makes it extremely difficult for artists from this region to get touring visas let alone touring opportunities in the US. We’re so grateful to be able to help these artists cross the border, that they say yes to joining us, and that we can be in community with other venues and promoters to make the trek here worthwhile. We strive to have Habibi just be a first or early stop in a long and fruitful relationship with New York and other parts of the country.”
Over six nights, Habibi Festival 2023 will feature jubilant performances, conversations, and storytelling. The festival lineup includes: award-winning Palestinian oud player, Clarissa Bitar whose music incorporates a multitude of genres; a new solo project from Algerian raï allstar Sofiane Saidi; the U.S. debuts of Franco-Algerian cellist Nesrine, Lebanese Arabic maqam virtuoso Firas Andari, and Moroccan-French neo-gnawa-rock ensemble Bab L’Bluz led by vocalist and guembri player, Yousra Mansour; and the world premiere of a new project by Lebanese-Americanpianist and composer Tarek Yamani, in collaboration with Habibi Festival co-founder Yacine Boulares.
Returning to the Habibi Festival are conversations between sets, with artists and festival partner afikra | عفكرة . afikra is a global organization, founded by Mikey Muhanna, that promotes inquiry into and conversations on the diversity and richness of the Arab world’s cultures and histories. Learn more about afikra here.
HABIBI FESTIVAL 2023 SCHEDULE
October 1 & October 3 –7, 2023 @ 7:00pm EST
Night 1 | October 1, 2023: Firas Andari + Omar Offendum
Night 2 | October 3, 2023: Firas Andari + Tarek Yamani & Yacine Boulares Quartet
Night 3 | October 4, 2023: Tarek Yamani & Yacine Boulares Quartet + Bab L’bluz
Night 4 | October 5, 2023: Nesrine + Sofiane Saidi Night 5 | October 6, 2023: Clarissa Bitar + Sofiane Saidi
Night 6 | October 7, 2023: Nesrine + Sofiane Saidi
JOE’S PUB, a program of the Public Theater, was named for Public Theater founder Joseph Papp. Since it opened in 1998, Joe’s Pub has played a vital role in The Public’s mission of supporting artists at all stages of their careers with an intimate space to perform and develop new work. Joe’s Pub presents the best in live music and performance nightly, continuing its commitment to diversity, production values, community, and artistic freedom. In addition to one-night-only concerts and multi-night engagements, Joe’s Pub is home to the annual Habibi Festival, which hosts artists representing contemporary and traditional music of the SWANA (Southwest Asia/North Africa) region, and The Vanguard Award & Residency, a yearlong curation series that celebrates the career, and community, of a prolific and influential artist. The current recipient of the Vanguard Award & Residency is Angélique Kidjo. Previous honorees are Nona Hendryx, Judy Collins, Laurie Anderson, and the late Barbara Maier Gustern. With its intimate atmosphere and superior acoustics, Joe’s Pub presents over 700 shows featuring artists based in New York City and touring performers from all over the world, and hosts over 100,000 audience members annually. Beyond public performances, Joe’s Pub also leads artist development programs like New York Voices, a commissioning program that helps musicians develop new performance projects, and Joe’s Pub Working Group, an artist-led development and collaboration cohort. The current New York Voices commissioned artists are Dan Fishback, Omar Offendum, and Sarah Elizabeth Charles. The current Joe’s Pub Working Group Cohort includes Ellen Winter, Esraa Warda, Firas Zreik, and Queen Esther.
About Habibi Festival
Created with the goal of giving a snapshot of contemporary and traditional musics of the South West Asia North Africa (SWANA) region, Habibi Festival aims to take listeners on a journey of the sounds wafting through the airwaves and living rooms of cities spanning Marrakech to Baghdad. This new performing arts festival is a collaboration between the Director of Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater Alex Knowlton, artist/composer/curator Yacine Boulares, and curator/producer Meera Dugal who are bonded by the goal of creating more joyful spaces for performance, conversation, and storytelling from this part of the world. Learn more at www.habibi-festival.com.
Habibi Festival is made possible with the support of partners Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, Artistic Freedom Initiative, Tamizdat, Villa Albertine, and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.
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