The Back Story….
It started in a little mirror shop in the heart of the Casbah of Algiers. Safinez Bousbia a young architect living in Ireland, was visiting Algiers to discover the city of her birth with an Irish friend. While walking in the Casbah they stumbled upon a mirror and went into the shop to buy it and there they met Mr. Ferkioui.
Mr. Ferkioui, the owner and craftsman of the mirror shop struck up conversation with the two women and offered to tell them his life story. They soon discovered that what Mr. Ferkioui was most proud of was his glorious past as a musician; and the time he spent at the Municipal Conservatory of Music in Algeria in the very first Chaabi music class. When Safinez asked him about his fellow classmates, Mr Ferkioui became very emotional, as he had lost contact with them years ago. He explained that because of the hardships of war, the departure of his Jewish musician friends and the displacement of the people who lived in the Casbah; he hadn’t seen any of them for over 50 years.
Safinez was so moved by his story and his deep longing to see his friends once more that she decided to help him track them down.
After a long search of 3 years, Safinez located all of the surviving members of the class and set about reuniting them. She then sold her assets to complete the feature documentary ‘El Gusto’ and together with the musicians, formed the orchestra made up of 42 musicians, ranging in age from 72 to 98 years old. Now, Safinez manages the orchestra and travels the world alongside them, sharing their inspiring tale with the world.
Together Safinez and the orchestra have reincarnated the Gusto of Algeria and Chabbi music. Ten years after this chance meeting the orchestra have gone on to record two very successful albums- A studio album produced by Damon Albarn (Blur/ Gorrilaz) under his label Honest Jons and distributed by EMI in 2007; and a soundtrack produced by Sodi (producer of Fella Kutti) under the label of Remark Records, distributed by Warner Music, released in 2012. As well as having performed at many of the most prestigious venues in Europe, such as: Le Festival des Chants Sacré Fes, UNESCO in Paris, Carré in Amsterdam, the Barbican in London, Palais des Beauxs Arts in Brussels, Grand Rex in Paris to even playing to an audience of 10,000 people at the famous Omni-Sport de Bercy.
Now they long to fulfill their biggest dream yet – to take El Gusto to perform in America.
This joyful reunion has turned into a real success story, taking these old musicians and reigniting their passion for music. In doing so they have become an inspiring example of how friendships can transcend all barriers and prove that it is never too late to follow your dreams!
The word El Gusto, is Spanish for ‘ the taste’. This phrase traveled through the Maures in North Africa and like many other Spanish words joined the Algerian dialect. In the language of Algiers, El Gusto became a true expression to describe ‘good mood’ and ‘joy of life.’
The orchestra truly embody the meaning of their name ‘El Gusto’ with captivating performances that take audiences on a journey to the narrow streets of the Casbah.
Today our objective is to bring El Gusto to the USA, we have finalized dates with amazing venues in the states and we have also got some sponsors on board. Even after all of that we are short 49,300 USD. I’m sure that you can imagine transporting 30 people on the road to the four corners of the USA over a period of 13 days is quite an expensive undertaking. On top of this, a lot of the musicians are quite elderly, so we need to take extra care of them, making sure that they travel in comfort and have plenty of time to rest between performances.
So please, if you can help us in any way to complete our funding and make these elderly musicians dreams come true – donate what you can!
We are so delighted to announce that El Gusto will be spreading their Gusto in the following cities:
August 3rd - The Lincoln Center - New York
August 6th - The Kennedy Center - Washington D.C.
August 10th - Grand Performances - Los Angeles
August 11th - Green Music Center - Sonoma, California
Although these musicians are elderly, they work hard and they play harder. El Gusto are not from the Algeria of war and fundamentalism but from the real Algeria – that of friendship, diversity, sharing, music and passion. El Gusto is after all an empowering and inspiring story, showing how it is never too late to follow your dreams and make them a reality; and proof that music can transcend all barriers.
Other Ways You Can Help
We know times are tough, so if you can't contribute but would still like to help then please spread the word! Share our Indiegogo link, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and help us bring El Gusto and Chaabi to the world!