Wednesday night saw a fusion of world music fill the Khan Al Wakala following a rousing speech, noting the triumph of culture in Nablus despite the daily oppression Palestinians face.
Music Harvest’s band was the first to perform. This group is made up of three Danes and two Brits who were thrown together a week ago and in that short time have collaborated to produce a really enjoyable set. The music was diverse, with its origins in the UK, Denmark and Bulgaria and they also joined with four Palestinian musicians for one piece. Their obvious technical ability combined with great harmonies created a brilliantly rich sound.
The Nablus Girls’ Choir’s recital was next. This group was founded by the Edward Said Conservatory of Music (ESNCM) in 2013, but is today a part of The Palestinian Girl’s Choir, which was also founded by the ESNCM. It was clear that the girls had been through extensive rehearsals, and their singing was both impressive and emotive.
From this evening’s leaflet:
“In 1990, a small group of Palestinian musicians came together to look at the situation of music and music education in Palestine. There were many pockets of talent and activity in several genres, including folklore music, Arabic art music and Western classical music, but there was no central body channelling musical talent and strategizing for the future. Recognising this, they decided to establish a music school. Over the next three years, the ground was prepared, and in 1993, the National Conservatory of Music was launched…. Gradually new branches were established: Jerusalem in 1996, Bethlehem in 1997, Nablus in 2010, and in 2012 the Gaza Music School was incorporated, becoming the fifth branch of the Conservatory. Today more than a thousand students are enrolled within the different branches and another three hundred are in children’s choirs.”
This progress mirrors that of the Nablus festival itself and is indicative of the way music can effect change in spite of difficulties. This evening saw musicians from around the world coming together to perform a hugely diverse range of music – this is the very essence of the Nablus Festival.