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The DePaulia – February 2002

          "When [concerned with] our differences, we should recognize our commonalities," suggests Victoria Vorreiter of the DePaul School of Music. "The same melodies of a Moroccan grandmother sings to her grandchild [is reminiscent of] the lullabies our grandmothers sang to us."
          On Feb. 13, Vorreiter will see an end to her three and half years of filming, editing and waiting. This date marks the Chicago premier of her brainchild, "The Music of Morocco and the Cycles of Life," at a benefit for the Casablanca Committee of the Chicago Sister Cities International Program.
           The 50-minute documentary details the integral role of music "throughout the arc of human life - from the first breath to the last one," said Vorreiter. Focusing on the indigenous Berbers of Morocco, Vorreiter explores the intimate relationship between the oral and instrumental tradition and rites of passage.
           Vorreiter further discloses that the production of her film was a dream come true—she always wished to add a visual aspect to the traditional aural method of music.
           Vorreiter states that, although she "was a single, Western woman traveling discreetly and alone" in a Muslim country, the natives of Morocco received her with "such grace and traditional generosity."
           Furthermore, they allowed her into their homes and families to view the nuanced situations of life. And, at the moment, when the world is highly aware of cultural disparities, a work signifying similarities may be especially touching, according to Vorreiter.
           In the documentary, Vorreiter notes the North African country has a range in culture, and thus, music—from "ornate Arab to simple Berber melodies." Since the "country [is] at a cultural and historical crossroads [of] the Arab world…Sub-Saharan Africa, all major Mediterranean civilizations and Islamic culture, its musical heritage is exceptionally diverse," said Vorreiter.
           The oral culture of Berbers makes music daily and intrinsic, Vorreiter mentions—from rites of passage such as birth, to circumcision and adolescent initiation, to ritual prayer and finally to the last stages of life.
           "The Music of Morocco" was "made possible in part by grants from the Illinois Humanities Council, the Ford Fund, Royal Air Maroc,  the National Moroccan Tourist Office and The Dowd Foundation," said Robin Florzak from DePaul's University Relations.
            The work, however, could not have been developed without the spiritual inspiration of Paul Bowles, the expatriate American author of "The Sheltering Sky." Vorreiter discussed her film with Bowles, who recorded Moroccan music for the Library of Congress in the 1960's, on three occasions at his Tangiers home, according to Florzak. Bowles died in 1999 and the film is dedicated to him.
           Vorreiter has taught violin around the world as a guest instructor specializing in the Suzuki Method. She arrived in Morocco to complete DePaul graduate studies in 1998 and has since returned five times.
           Besides the production of the film, Vorreiter also captured several still images of daily Moroccan life. The photo collection, titled "Tea in the Sahara," has been on display in the Richardson Library since Fall quarter and will be replaced Feb. 8.
          "The primal resonance of music, and its profound melodies and rhythms," Vorreiter said, is the motive behind her film and life's work. The violin instructor goes on to proclaim: "Music is an incredible medium!"