Algeria, 1950s. A blend of Berber sounds, Andalusian melodies, jazz and chanson rises amongst the walls of the historic Casbah in Algiers. The music is called chaâbi - meaning 'of the people'; and it's played by groups of Jewish and Muslim musicians. Algeria’s war of independence a decade later breaks these two communities apart, burying the memory of a part of the Franco-Algerian history which is still not fully known today.
Separated by history for fifty years, the 25-piece orchestra of Jewish and Muslim musicians returns to the Barbican after a critically-acclaimed performance in 2007 as part of our Ramadan Nights series. Together again, they share the passion that never left them, standing as a proof that music’s universality transcends prejudices.
To witness a performance of El Gusto, is to live a moment of sharing, emotions, and pleasure both for eyes and ears. Traditionally, chaâbi groups are composed of ten musicians, but for the occasion, it is a real orchestra that is brought together. From the classical "o’sayed” songs, to the love songs, and the ditties of the every-day life hummed by the seamen and asked at the weddings, El Gusto evokes the bygone atmosphere of a time and a country.
Pre concert talk, 7pm Stalls Lounge (Level -1) BBC Radio 3 broadcaster Max Reinhardt in discussion with El Gusto director Safinez Bouisba and members of the El Gusto Orchestra of Algiers Free
FreeStage 6.15pm El-Andaluz
‘Like a love story interrupted by the war which resumes with renewed vigour once peace returns’Le Monde
'An extraordinarily moving occasion' ★★★★ The Times
‘The Buena Vista Social Club of Algiers’Le Journal de Dimanche