Last night was my favourite evening of the festival so far – a hugely diverse range of singing, dancing, acting and chanting. The atmosphere was absolutely fantastic, with the entire audience singing, dancing and clapping along.
The night started with the sound of drumming gradually filling the Khan Al Wakala as a band of chanting men with drums and tambourines came in.
Next there was a fantastic soloist who sang and played the piano and then a very impressive group of dancers doing a form of dabke – they demonstrated amazing stamina and seemed to be really enjoying themselves.
The next act was one of the most popular of the night, with much of the audience up on their feet. RP and Bill’s rapping both kept the audience entertained and conveyed a really important message. Numan’s breakdancing on stage during the performance showed his supreme talent at this clearly immensely difficult skill. (You can find his music videos on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWOVVBTHHyU)
“Palestine is occupied, the situation’s sickening; luckily my destiny has put me in the thick of things.”
The difficult job of following this, was taken by a one-man-play, which centred on a version of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.’ where, the questions centred on political questions relating to the Palestinian situation.
Next there were two brilliant singers and the night was concluded with another fantastic dabke showing, but this time with far younger performers. The children had obviously put in a huge amount of effort and their gleeful dancing was the perfect way to end the evening.
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.
Last night, the Al-Kamanjati took to the Khan Al Wakala stage for a hugely enjoyable performance.
The performance showcased the band and vocalists’ talent and experience and the entire audience was enthralled from start to finish:
“One of the most memorable musical experiences of my time in Palestine” Mees Wielinga
“Absolutely breathtaking” Layth Massoud
“I had goosebumps, and not because it was cold” Cynthia de Roover
“It was alright” Edward Pickthall
“I was emotionally moved” Henry Nixon
“Wonderful” Noah Akinco
The Hamdi Manko centre hosted the play 'Forbidden Dreams' at 5pm on the second day of the Nablus Festival of Culture & Arts. Taher Baker's play was performed in front of a full audience. The audience included children, adults, locals and attendees from overseas; the diversity of the audience underlines fundamental aspects of the festival, those of inclusion and diversity. A rich storyline and captivating acting meant the play was warmly received and throughly enjoyed.