Ensemble Rhoum El Bakkali


The Ensemble Rhoum El Bakkali, led by singer and oud player Sayda Rahoum Bakkali, is dedicated to carrying on and preserving the hadratradition, which originated in the region surrounding the Northern Moroccan city of Chefchaouen in the sixteenth century. The hadra is a Sufi ritual that makes use of invocations, hymns and prayers set to music, and is often performed by brotherhoods. The Rhoum El Bakkali Sufi brotherhood traces back to Sidi Ali Hadj Bekkali, the founder of the Bekkalia Sufi order, whose descendants have maintained the tradition’s legacy to this day. Starting from the end of the nineteenth century, women from the Chefchaouen region also began performing the hadra at the initiative of Cherifa Lalla Hiba Bekkalia. Sayda Rahoum Bakkali has devoted herself to carrying on this tradition. She is the daughter of a tribal elder and has studied Arabic-Andalusian music and theory to better understand the aesthetics of the hadra. This background helps her in passing on her legacy to a group of young women from the Chefchaouen region. These women meet three times a week to study repertoire consisting of religious songs accompanied by hand drums. The gatherings are a combination of prayer meetings and rehearsals for performances of these works and the folk melodies that are also part of the Rahoum family heritage. The ensemble performs during festivals in Morocco and farther afield, including performances at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, or the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and at festivals dedicated to Sufi music in Konya and Jakarta.