Nigel Kennedy plays ‘Spring’ from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with Palestine Strings and Members of the Orchestra of Life

BBC Proms 2013 from the Royal Albert Hall, London.

Nigel Kennedy plays ‘Spring’ from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with Palestine Strings and Members of the Orchestra of Life as part of Prom 34.

This concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, scheduled for broadcast on BBC Four 7.30pm on 23 August 2013 and is available on-demand for seven days after broadcast. Radio 3 is streamed in HD sound online.

Also see on Mondoweiss Video: Stunning performance by young Palestinian violinist at Royal Albert Hall

Ma’an: Palestinian Arab Idol finalist says Issawi an inspiration

Published today (updated) 22/04/2013 21:09
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Muhammad Assaf, a Palestinian finalist in the TV singing contest Arab Idol, says he is inspired by long-term hunger striker Samer Issawi and would trade winning the competition for the prisoner’s freedom.

“I am conveying Palestine’s message to the world, and if I had to choose between winning the Arab Idol title and the freedom of Samer Issawi, I would choose freedom for the Palestinian hero whose steadfastness is peerless and I can’t compare myself to it,” Assaf told Ma’an.

Speaking from Beirut, the singer from Gaza City said that he considers himself an “ambassador of Palestinian art,” who wants to convey a positive image of Palestinians, despite Israeli occupation and oppression.

Arab audiences are happy to see a Palestinian singing different genres of music rather than just patriotic songs, he said, adding that he has been receiving support from his fans in the Arab world.

Assaf says he has been moved by the plight of Palestinian prisoners, especially Samer Issawi who has been on hunger strike in Israeli detention for 265 days.

“Issawi has provided a model in the struggle which is too great to be imitated by artists, despite the fact that art has an element of resistance as it can deliver the message of a people under occupation to the whole world.”

“I can’t differentiate between my art and my patriotic attitude,” he added.

Assaf qualified on Friday for the final of MBC’s popular singing competition Arab Idol.

This article appeared in Ma’an News

Palestinian-American composer and conductor George Bisharat and the Oakland East Bay Symphony in “Ya Way Li”

IMEU, APR 17, 2013 

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The exile, fear and frustration of Palestinians expelled from their homeland will be brought to life through John Bisharat’s composed autobiography “Ya Way Li.” The piece, which is debuting April 20 with the Oakland East Bay Symphony in California, is part of the program, “Notes from the Middle East,” which brings together viewpoints of Palestinians, Egyptians and Israelis through music.

According to Bisharat, a Palestinian-American composer and conductor, “The piece tells the story of the fear and heartbreak my father, uncles and aunt endured during their struggle of being expelled from their homeland.” Bisharat’s uncle Emile wrote the poem “Ya Way Li” in Arabic and Bisharat composed the music with singers, percussionists and instrumentalists. “The text specifically reveals the Palestinian perspective. One of the lines is ‘and here I am a stranger in exile with no hope of ever returning to my origin,'” explains Bisharat. “This speaks to the issues of the right to return and the military occupation.”

The zourna, a woodwind instrument that plays three notes, is featured in the piece and was used by Bisharat’s father and uncles to gather their children. “It was a calling together of the family. It’s a personal note, and I decided to start and end the piece with it. It’s kind of the bookends to the piece.”

In addition to the instruments used in this piece, foot-stomping is also incorporated. The entire orchestra stomps their feet in unison to symbolize the frustration of the Palestinians. “There’s so much frustration, resentment and fear in the piece. It’s kind of a dark piece because it’s not a happy situation by any means. But it speaks to the fear and insecurity faced by Palestinian families, including my own.”

Bisharat created this music specifically for the program. He has written other Arabic music and enjoys working with other composers and musicians. “I love the idea of someone else improvising in a framework I have worked out as a composer and leaving a slot open for improvisation. You’ll also end up with something that is bigger and greater than what you would be able to do as your own. These musicians are bringing their own life experiences in every note they play.”

Born in Los Angeles, Bisharat’s mother introduced him to music. He attended UCLA’s Professional Designation in Film Scoring program and graduated in 1986, and has been making music ever since.

Bisharat has conducted The London Symphony Orchestra and The National Symphony Orchestra, among other international engagements.

Bisharat derives from a musically savvy family. Several of his family members are different types of artists. His brother and sister are both professional musicians and one of his uncles, aside from being a psychiatrist, was a violin crafter and another uncle played the flute. Bisharat’s wife is world-renowned concert pianist Louise Thomas. “I was lucky, I guess, to be born into a family of such talented, educated and artistic people, very warm and loving people.”

Read this article and much more on The Institute for Middle East Understanding website which offers journalists and editors quick access to information about Palestine and the Palestinians, as well as expert sources — both in the U.S. and in the Middle East. Read the IMEU Background Briefings. Contact IMEU for story assistance. Sign up for IMEU e-briefings.

Classical music moves into the camps of Palestine

Published March 23rd, 2013 – 07:00 GMT on AlBawaba
How often does one see pictures of brave Palestinian children facing up to Israeli soldiers and tanks, armed only with stones in their hands and often paying with their lives for daring to do so?

Ramzi Aburedwan was one such child, who grew up in the refugee camp of Al Amari near Ramallah. At the tender age of 8, he witnessed his best friend being killed during an Israeli military operation. He then found himself throwing stones during the first Intifada and as a street combatant Aburedwan seemed destined for an Israeli prison or a Palestinian martyr’s poster. But fate decided to intervene.

At 17, he was invited to a music workshop in Al Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah, where he fell in love with the art and started to learn to play the viola. Replacing stones with a musical instrument led to a journey of channelling his anger into creativity and of personal transformation.

After studying for a year at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (ESNCM) in Ramallah and thereafter attending a summer workshop in the United States — at the Apple Hill Centre for Chamber Music of New Hampshire — he enrolled at the Conservatoire National de Region d’Angers.

In 2000 Ramzi created the ensemble “Dal’Ouna”, music that symbolised the link between East and West. It flowed from an encounter between Palestine and France, from the melting of pure traditional Middle Eastern songs with mixed jazzy compositions, played on Western classical musical instruments (viola, violin, clarinet, flute, guitar, piano), and traditional Eastern instruments (bouzouk, oud, darbouka, bendir, etc).

In 2005, he was awarded the “DEM” gold medal for viola, chamber music and music theory. While in France, he also learnt to play the piano.

Yearning to share his knowledge and experience, and inspire a new generation of Palestinians, by helping their anger and frustrations find musical expression, Aburedwan established Al Kamandjâti (The Violin) in October 2002. It was to be the place where Palestinian children and youth could learn music and develop their culture.

In August 2005, Riwaq, the Palestinian architectural organisation engaged in conservation and rehabilitation, completed the renovation of the Al Kamandjâti Music Centre in the old city of Ramallah and it was here that Aburedwan launched his nonprofit musical enterprise, funded mainly by European donors.

Taking music to the people, Al Kamandjâti set up music schools for Palestinian children in various cities, villages and refugee camps. These music schools offer children the opportunity to learn to play music, to discover their cultural heritage as well as other musical cultures, but above all to explore their creative potential.

In addition, Al Kamandjâti produces numerous concerts and several music festivals throughout the year as part of its mission to bring music to all Palestinians.

Aburedwan explains the rationale: “Perhaps the least recognised effect of the violent Israeli occupation on the lives of Palestinian people is the undermining of culture, art and leisure. When a regime wants to weaken a people, it uses psychological, cultural and physical means. It attempts to erase tangible evidence of that people’s unique cultural heritage. Our struggle must be cultural and militant, artistic and political, and economic. But on no account should we forget the primary reason behind the projects and activities led by Al Kamandjâti, which is to educate children, who suffer most from the unjust politico-economic situation.

“We cannot afford to sit back and wait for favourable political decisions which would establish a Palestinian State,” he says. “We must proactively work on galvanising Palestinian cultural life. We must give our children the opportunity to think beyond soldiers and tanks. They must think creatively, not about the destruction of their country, but about rebuilding their way of life and future.”

In the West Bank, Al Kamandjâti today provides music training to around 500 students in places such as the Al Amari, Jalazon, Qalandiah and Qaddura refugee camps, the village of Deir Ghassana, the old cities of Ramallah and Jenin, and in Tulkarem.

Since 2005, Al Kamandjâti, with ten French musicians, has also organised annual music workshops in the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon, where, today, they have 60 students at Bourj el Barajneh and Shatilla.

In Palestine, Al Kamandjâti employs 22 musicians who teach violin, viola, cello, guitar, flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, trombone, trumpet, saxophone, piano, accordion, oud, nay, Arabic percussion, orchestra, singing, harmony, choir, improvisation and music theory.

“Music is a universal language,” Aburedwan says. “We encourage Palestinians to use this artistic tool to harmonise and enrich their cultural life, promoting international awareness and recognition of the Palestinian nation.

“Through music, Al Kamandjâti seeks to show that education and culture can transcend and overcome the Israeli violence from which Palestinians suffer,” he adds. “Learning music provides children with a form of expression to channel their energy creatively and constructively. Are not today’s children tomorrow’s adults? Classical music is, for the children, a discovery. We introduce each one to an instrument. Moreover, these workshops enable children to gather in a disciplined setting, whether as neighbours or friends or new acquaintances”.

Many young international musicians have been working at Al Kamandjâti, discovering music and a practical approach to mastering various instruments with Palestinian children. Jason Crompton came from New Jersey four years ago to visit his sister in occupied Jerusalem and after learning about Al Kamandjâti, he stayed on to teach piano and conduct the orchestra. He learnt Arabic to communicate with the children and eventually married a fellow teacher from Italy, Madeleine, who teaches the flute and also works with UNRWA schools in the refugee camps around Ramallah. They have a child and now live in Ramallah.

“The feeling of sharing in the musical experience with anyone who wishes to indulge is special and we believe that we belong here,” Crompton says.

Their story lends credence to the oft-held belief that music transcends both borders and barriers. At Al Kamandjâti, it has been an enriching experience for both the Palestinian children and the teachers of many nationalities.

Not only does Al Kamandjâti teach Palestinian children how to play music, it also teaches some of them how to repair, maintain and tune instruments.

Shehadeh, a young man who has been involved in setting up a local lute-making workshop, spent three months in Italy with stringed-instrument makers who had previously been to Palestine, learning to repair and make instruments. Today his workshop adjoins the Al Kamandjâti building in Ramallah.

Al Kamandjâti organises The Music Days Festival in June, in partnership with the French Cultural Centres Network. The festival lasts 12 days and takes place in more than ten Palestinian cities. A Baroque Music Festival follows in December and various churches in the cities of the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem host it.

Al Kamandjâti also engages in exchange programmes abroad with partner organisations. Some students have been given the opportunity to take part in music workshops abroad to improve their technical skills. Khalil, the coordinator, explains, “We had nine students who completed their scholarships in France last year — in violin, percussion, bass, clarinet and guitar, and two of them learnt how to fix string-section instruments.

“We have two blind brothers, Mohammad and Jihad, who today teach percussion and oud at the Helen Keller Centre in [occupied] Jerusalem,” he adds.

Today, Al Kamandjâti stands for Aburedwan’s transformation from a stone-pelter to a viola player and his dream of sharing his knowledge and experience with his people, bringing joy to the children growing up in refugee camps and under occupation.

This article appeared on http://www.albawaba.com/entertainment/palestine-camps-music-479027

The Real News on repression and cultural resistance in Gaza with footage of Tales of a City by the Sea’s public reading

What hope sounds like: a performance by Gaza’s children at the Gaza Music School

The children of the Gaza Music School performing to a French and Egyptian delegation early January 2013. The boys in this clip are around 9 years of age. According to Qattan Foundation’s website, the Gaza Music School (GMS) was established “in response to growing demand for music education voiced by children and parents who attend the Qattan Center for the Child (QCC) in Gaza City, one of the A. M. Qattan Foundation’s main projects.” The Gaza Music School was completely destroyed by Israel during its attack on Gaza in 2008 and was rebuilt since then. A testimony to the resilience of the Palestinian people. To find out more information about the school and Qattan Foundation visit the following linkhttp://www.qattanfoundation.org/subpage/en/gms.asp?sectionID=654

 

Palestine Youth Orchestra: the sound of resistance