The PYO celebrates its eighth year in Ramallah and Nablus



The PYO celebrates its eighth year in Ramallah and Nablus
The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music
No. 25 | Spring – Summer 2011
The PYO celebrates its eighth year
in Ramallah and Nablus
After several weeks of hard work on all fronts, the Palestine
Youth Orchestra (PYO) – launched in 2004 – succeeded in
holding two successful performances in Ramallah and
Nablus. Bringing together Palestinian youth within the
ranks of an orchestra under the difficult circumstances
of occupation is a remarkable feat in itself, a small
step towards achieving the dream of reunifying all the
Palestinian people in their homeland.
The program included Rossini’s “Thieving Magpie”
overture; Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1, played
exquisitely by the rising Palestinian star from Nazareth,
Fadi Deeb, who is currently pursuing studies in the USA
after teaching for a year at the ESNCM; Roger Johansson’s
contemporary piece “Fi Dikhra Al Haram” for orchestra
and oud, and excerpts from Shostakovich’s music to
“The Gadfly”.
The orchestra members numbered 65, over and above two
soloists and two conductors. Fortunately, the ESNCM was
able to rely on the growing numbers of young Palestinian
musicians residing inside Palestine, who were joined by a
few young musicians from Europe, and guest members of
the PYO from Egypt and Syria. The latter were only able
to join the group during the last three days of rehearsal,
following a difficult struggle to secure permissions for
them to enter Palestine.
The orchestra was led by the charismatic young Spanish
conductor, Hilari Garcia Gasquez from the University of
Valencia, with the exception of Johansson’s piece, which
was conducted by the Swedish composer himself. The
piece was composed for outstanding oudist and member
of the ESNCM Oriental Music Ensemble and Karloma,
Ahmad Al Khatib, who performed it as soloist despite
having been given a permit to enter Palestine only one
day before the performance!
The performances, which took place at the Ramallah
Cultural Palace and the new Prince Turki Bin Abdul Aziz
Theatre at Al-Najah National University of Palestine in
Nablus, were widely attended and highly acclaimed by
the audiences present. The orchestra was keen to open
new musical horizons for Palestinian youth and audiences
by introducing innovative contemporary works such as
Johansson’s. It was also a unique experience for members
of the orchestra to have the composer conduct his own
piece. The energy he emitted while conducting his own
composition resulted in beautiful harmonic passages in
the hands of young orchestra musicians, and brought
innovative new sound worlds to Palestinian audiences.
The PYO spent 10 intensive rehearsal days at the Birzeit
Activities Center, during which several expert orchestral
musicians, hailing from various parts of the world, some
as volunteers, came to coach the different sections. The
coaches included Alessio Benvenuti from Italy, Peter Sulski
from the U.S.A, Heather Bursheh from Palestine, Tom
Hammond from the UK, Ulla Benz from Germany, Nesrine
Belmokh from France, Priscila Vela Vico from Spain and
Torbjorn Ottersen from Norway.
the square, and intimate renditions of Britten, Mozart
and Rossini – Arabized through popular folk melodies
– emanated from the Hosh el Eliya restaurant. The
students’ finale was a performance of antiphonal music
by Gabrielli in the Latin church, where brass musicians
lined up on opposite sides of the building, the audience
sitting in the middle.
During rehearsals, we had the opportunity to listen to the
comments of a number of staff members and participants:
Michele Cantoni, academic director of the ESNCM and
artistic director of the orchestras, felt that the PYO, now
in its eighth year, is well established and has reaffirmed
its competence as a young orchestra. He was pleased
that this year the orchestra introduced a number of
new young participants, and tackled music of a higher
caliber, which was a challenge to the young musicians
and teachers alike.
Prior to the orchestra performances in Ramallah and Nablus,
students and teachers of the orchestra gave a spectacular,
charming summer evening outdoor performance to an
audience of almost 300 people, who followed the music
through the streets of Birzeit’s historic center. The
performance kicked off with a brass ensemble performing
from a roof-top, followed by a percussion ensemble that
livened up spirits on the municipality terrace, Palestinian
and Serbian musicians performing Serbian folk music in
Mostafa Fahmy, a violist from Egypt, who also participated
in the PNO project earlier this year, commented that his
friends in Egypt envy him for being in Palestine for the
second time, a place so deeply revered in the heart
of every Arab. Horn player Rawad Abu Mahmoud, who
studied at the Syrian national institute of music and
continues his studies in Rostock, Germany, said: “when
I first crossed the military check-point at the bridge I
felt like a stranger facing a difficult journey, but when I
entered the Palestinian controlled territory, I felt relaxed
and very much at home amongst my own people.”
Roger Johansson, whose ever-present smile endeared
him to all, explained that the piece he composed for
Ahmad Al Khatib and the PYO was meant to embody the
relationship between east and west. It has liberated itself
from the classical orchestral form to embrace the magical
expression of the orient.
Faten A Malek, a Palestinian living in Egypt, had not
visited Palestine before. Tears studded her eyes when
she said: “I have been hearing from my grandmother, for
ever for so long, about Palestine and the orange groves
in Jaffa where she came from, but to see all this on the
ground is a different feeling altogether. I am so fortunate
that playing the contrabass and the universal language
of music, gave me the opportunity to come back to my
roots”. Reaffirming Faten’s passions, PYO volunteer Ranya
“Palestine Strings” and
“Danadeesh” on tour in the U.S.A.
After performing pre-tour concerts in Ramallah and
Bethlehem, the ESNCM student string ensemble Palestine
strings travelled with Danadeesh, a young dance troupe
from Sariyyeh Ramallah, on a concert tour of the USA,
covering six states: Florida, New Jersey, Washington D.C.,
Michigan, Texas, and California.
The sixteen young violin and viola students were coached
and led by Swedish violinist Eva Bogren, and accompanied by
Dina Shilleh on piano and Eliot Bogren on electric bass. The
performances thrilled audiences as they watched the young
musicians move freely on stage to exciting arrangements
of popular classics, world folk, tango, and well known
classical and film melodies, all played from memory and
choreographed especially for the group.
Baramki observed that one of the reasons the PYO 2011
was such a unique experience, was “because it was held
on Palestinian lands, which permitted one Palestinian
musician who had grown up in Egypt, to see her country
for the first time”.
The 2011 PYO annual workshops were supported
by the office of the Prime Minister, the A.M.Qattan
Foundation / the Qattan Fund for performing Arts
project 2011, Simon Kouba’s engineering firm, the
DROSOS Foundation, the Housing Bank, the Iberian
Music Institute IIMI and with the cooperation of the
Palestinian Ministry of Culture.
The sparkling young string players included: Afnan
Abbasi, Aline Massoud, Carol Ibrahim, Chiara Ayyad, Costa
Mustaklem, Lordina Baboon, Marina Eishberg, Majd Kurzom,
Nassim Halabi, Nour Joudeh, Rena al Haj Abed, Sama Tarazi,
Hala Abu Alzulof, Marmar Joulani, Rawand al Hasanat, and
Dima Khashan.
The string group toured with Danadeesh, a young dabkeh
dance troupe, made up of 16 girls and boys between the
ages of 14 and 16 years. They danced passionately to
traditional Palestinian folk songs, asserting their national
identity with pride, and inspiring hope and confidence
in a free Palestine. For the past 3 years, the Sariyyeh
dance school – established in 2005 – has been generously
supported by Muna and Basem Hishmeh from New Jersey.
The school trains some 100 students, between the ages of
3 and 15 years, in the art of ballet, contemporary dance
and Palestinian folk dance.
Group photo of Palestine Strings and Danadeesh with Mrs. & Mr. Muna and Basem Hishmeh in the US.
The Palestine Strings and Danadeesh joint tour, which
received raving reviews in the U.S, Was initiated and funded
by the Muna and Basem Hishmeh fund, in co-operation
with the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine.
Impressions and reflections
During the USA tour, Basem Hishmeh pointed out: “in the
states these young students receive a golden opportunity
to live freely without facing demeaning checkpoints
and imprisoning walls, on a daily basis. Here, their only
concern is studying music freely.” Reflecting upon the
tour, he described it as “a good will message of hope and
freedom. Whether Muslim or Christian, they represent selfrespect and pride in their Palestinian-Arab culture. They
perform, sing and dance in peace: their’s is the radiant
face of Palestinians under occupation.”
Nasim Al Halabi, a violin student and 14 year-old Palestine
Strings member, described his experience as “unforgettable.
Feelings of exhaustion were superseded by absolute
enjoyment. The program of the concert is inscribed in my
memory forever, after two years of training.”
Sixteen year-old violinist Chiara Ayad, now in her
7th grade at the ESNCM, described the trip as very
educational, adding that the Palestinian youth performing
successfully, expressed to the audience their longing
for a free homeland, and their firm belief in a brighter
future. She reported having met an Arab writer after one
of the performances who approached her saying: “Edward
Said would have been very proud to have his name
associated with a conservatory producing such fine levels
of musicianship”.
Eleven year-old dancer from the Danadeesh dance troupe,
Yara Abu Khadijeh, fondly recalled cementing her relations
with fellow dance students, and forming new friendships
with the ESNCM students of the Palestine Strings. She
describes the performances as being very enjoyable and
very well received, but she said above all, performing with
students from the city dance school was an important
cross-cultural experience. She also appreciated having
had the opportunity to visit famous touristic sites and
cultural centers in the U.S.
Mr. Fayeq Khoury, managing director of the Sareyet
Ramallah, evaluated the benefits of the tour on two levels:
firstly, it raised the awareness amongst the American
public, including those of Arab origin, concerning
the current state of artistic development achieved in
Palestine. Secondly, it promoted opportunities for further
cooperation among the local cultural institutions in
Palestine. Mr. Khoury has expressed his sincere thanks to
Muna and Basem Hishmeh for their unwavering support
of the Sariyyeh and the ESNCM and for making this tour
possible, and also graciously thanked the Arab Palestinian
ex-pat community, the Ramallah Club and American
Federation of Ramallah, as well as the alumni members
of the Sariyyieh, for generously hosting the young visiting
artists throughout their tour.
Nay Barghouthi and Heather Bursheh in Mishwar
Jasmine festival in spring
Honoring the spirit of the Tunisian “Jasmine” revolution,
whose repercussions continue to reverberate throughout
the Arab world, the ESNCM held a month-long music
festival from March 13 to April 17. The concert series
was launched in Jerusalem, and spread to the cities of
Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus, Jericho, Hebron, Shafa Amer
and the occupied Golan. Local and international musicians
performed concerts of world music, jazz, Arabic music
and classical music including orchestral, chamber, vocal
choral ensembles. Explaining the festival theme, ESNCM
activities coordinator, Mohammad Maragha said, “Spring
is the season of rejuvenation and revival; nature’s seasonal
cycles remind us that harsh winters are soon replaced by
warmth of summer and similarly when a nation seeks
freedom, the world will respond.” Discussing the success
of the festival program in connection to its theme, he
added, “among the highlights of the festival was a historic
first time orchestral concert in Hebron, which was received
with great excitement and appreciation.”
Mumken (What if?) – The sounds of
Palestinian Youth
In Bethlehem a group of young musicians set to music
the lyrics of contemporary local poets such as: Mahmoud
Abu Hashhash, Waddah Zaqtan, Sami Mitwasi and Sami
Salhi. Lead singer Ranya Qawas described the mood of
the newly formed group as “a reflection of the anxiety,
sorrow and frustration of young Palestinians today, and
an articulation of their aspirations, dreams and visions for
the future. By posing the question ‘what if?’ They open
the doors of creative imagination, and by analyzing the
past they hope to play a role in determining their future.”
“Mishwar’ with Nai Barghouti
A talented flute student from Ramallah – Nai Barghouti
– still just 14 years old, performed two solo concerts of
classical music in Ramallah and Jerusalem, accompanied
on the piano by her teacher Heather Bursheh. Nai began
taking flute lessons at eight, and has since won several
prizes, among them two first prizes at the Palestine
National Music Competition. Nai’s stage presence reflected
her confident, expressive performance, and depicted a
mature style despite her youth. The audience particularly
appreciated her two original compositions, entitled ‘Qana’,
and ‘ZicZak Jazz’.
Ramzy suleiman – fast forward from the roots
Palestinian-American jazz pianist, singer, teacher and
composer, Ramzy Suleiman, spent a month – long residency
at the Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jerusalem branches of
ESNCM. Ramzy originally hails from the town of Al Bireh,
where he used to spend his summer vacations as a child
with his grandparents, and explains that these memories
became an invaluable source for the lyrics of his blues
songs, which he performed at the festival. His soulful
music expresses deep longing for a homeland, suffocating
under occupation, and before leaving, he promised his
inspired students a return visit and further sessions in
jazz improvisations.
Fantasia – lamees and wafa
Fantasia is an original adventure into the fusion of oriental
and classical western music by pianist Lamees Audeh
and her husband, the qanoun player Wafa Zaghal. They
were joined by Ma’en Ghoul on percussion and violist
Samer Rashed. The program consisted largely of oriental
compositions such as oriental nahawand, eastern breeze,
andalusia, and longa, and an original work composed
Fantasia in the Jasemine Festival
by the duo entitled “the prisoner”, dedicated to Wafa’s
brother – himself a released prisoner. The result was a
beautiful dialogue between the qanoun and the piano
performed by two accomplished composer/performers.
Angelo Comisso – metamorphosis of the
Angelo Comisso considers his solo piano performing as “an
ongoing research into the combination of contemporary
refined music, European jazz and total improvisation”.
Through his improvisational concerts in Jerusalem and
Ramallah on the 24th and 26th of March, the audiences
were allowed to “open the pages of his intimate journal
and to observe a great part of his personality.” The
concert program, aptly entitled “Metamorphosis of the
Imagination”, saw Comisso transcend his own memories,
emotions, inner delights, and reflections on this
heartbreaking contemporary world.
The ESNCM Orchestra makes history
After an intensive workshop at the Birzeit Activities
Center, students and faculty from all branches played
an historic – first-ever – orchestral concert in Hebron on
April 16, 2011, under the baton of Columbian conductor
Juan David Molano, now principal conductor of the ESNCM
orchestra and of the Jerusalem Children’s Orchestra. The
same program was also performed in Jerusalem and
Ramallah. The orchestra invited two special guests: the
oboist Nicola Barbagli, from the Geneva Conservatory in
Switzerland, and Torbjorn Ottersen, principal timpanist of
the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, who also coached piano
students Mira Abu Zulof and Husam Barham in orchestral
percussion, in addition to performing some pieces with
the orchestra himself.
The concert program opened with Mozart’s overture to
Don Giovanni, followed by the first movement of his piano
concerto no. 20 – In d minor – with talented 15-year-old
soloist Sasha Khoury, a student of Nadia Abboushi at the
Ramallah branch. Sasha began studying piano at the age
of 5, and has won several prizes in local and national
competitions. The third item on the program was ‘Valse
Triste’ by Sibelius, conducted by Zeina Khoury, a graduate
of ESNCM currently studying conducting in Rotterdam,
and the exciting finale, was a collection of colorful Czech
dances from Dvorak’s Czech suite.
Rim Banna – Mirrors of the Soul (Maraya El Rooh)
Joined on stage by ESNCM guitar teacher Luke Mayer,
the popular Palestinian singer Rim Al Banna, sang from
her heart to enthusiastic audiences at Al Najah National
University in Nablus, and Beit Al-Tifel in Hebron. Her songs
– spanning lyrical, folkloric and patriotic music, moved her
listeners both young and old. Rim Banna dedicated her
concerts to the martyrs of the Arab spring revolts.
Ognenka Gerasimovska – ESNCM pianist from
Ognenka Gerasimovska, a piano teacher at the Jerusalem
and Bethlehem branches, gave a piano recital of classical
music at the Peace Center in Bethlehem.
Opus – faculty chamber ensemble, and the
bridge trio, featuring aidan pendleton
Aidan Pendleton and Liesbeth Debruyne (violins), Marco
Mazzi (viola), and Katy Whittle (cello), all string teachers
at the ESNCM, performed concerts at the Ramallah, Jericho
and Nablus branches. The program included Mozart’s
“dissonance” string quartet, and Beethoven’s string trio in
c minor: a purely classical program, executed with delicate
refinement and powerful expression. Aidan Pendleton
also performed on the viola with the Bridge Trio, an
ensemble of professors from the Geneva Conservatory – in
an all-classical program at the Peace center in Bethlehem.
During the week prior to the concert the members of the
Bridge Trio gave intensive chamber music masterclasses
to students of the ESNCM’s Bethlehem branch.
The Saphire Trio – violin, clarinet and piano
This was the second visit of the celebrated American all
female trio to Palestine, having previously been on the
jury of the 2010 national music competition. Their program
was entertaining, colorful and virtuosic, and their stage
presence warm and friendly. ESNCM students look forward
to attending more of their master classes, workshops and
performances in the future.
Dozan Wa Awtar – denied entry
Unfortunately, the long-awaited performance by the
choral group led by Shereen Abu Khater from Jordan,
had to be cancelled after the group was not permitted
to enter Palestine by the Israeli occupying authorities,
much to the disappointment of their Palestinian friends
and counterparts.
Aix-En-Provence Conservatoire – jazz group –
featuring the singer Cecile Mclorin Salvant
The final concert of the festival was given by the Aix-EnProvence Conservatoire’s jazz group, who performed
in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, led by the powerful voice
of Cecile Mclorin Salvant. Her expressive vocal style is
reminiscent of the female jazz idols Billie Holiday and Sarah
Vaughan. Mclorin Salvant, whose roots are both AfricanAmerican and French, praised the Palestinian audience,
saying that she “enjoyed singing to such a receptive
audience who clearly appreciate good jazz music.”
The ESNCM wishes to extend its deep appreciation
and gratitude to all those who supported the jasmine
festival especially:
The European Union –the main sponsor, and the Arab Fund
for Arts and Culture – AFAC, Arab Company for Medical
and Agricultural Products (ARABCO), SIDA, the DROSOS
Foundation, Fondation Les instruments de La Paix,
UNESCO, in collaboration with various cultural centers and
Palestinian institutes and companies, who offered there
support to the festival.
Maqamat in France
Between the 10th and 15th of June, the Jerusalem branch’s
Arabic music ensemble – Maqamat – participated in
three outstanding concerts of classical, national and
tarab songs at the international music schools festival
in France. The distinguished Palestinian presence was
organized in joint cooperation with the French Cultural
Center (CCF) in Jerusalem. The talented students,
coached by qanoun teacher Wafa Zaghal, were: Miral
Khoury (qanoun), Muhammad Ghosheh (violin), Osama
Abu Arafeh (oud), Hiba Omari (cello), Nai Barghouti
(voice), and Abdelsalam Sabbah, on percussion. A
month earlier, on May 12th, Maqamat had also helped
celebrate the 10,000th anniversary of Jericho, the most
ancient city in the world. A brilliantly lit ceremony,
took place at the archeological site of Hisham’s palace.
Maqamat continued to give performances in Jerusalem
throughout June, July and August.
“Out of place”
On June 7th the ESNCM Oriental music ensemble was
invited to perform at the Darat Al Funun art center
in Amman, Jordan. They played original compositions
and masterpieces of classical Arabic music, in a show
entitled “Out Of Place”.
The effect of the ESNCM music
programs on students lives
A recent research funded by CORDAID and SIDA, investigated the impact of music education on ESNCM students’
daily lives. Specialized study groups were formed, involving individual and collective interviews with students,
parents, staff and employees of various cultural centers
and cultural activists from the community who frequently
attend concerts. The study, which was commissioned
to an external consultancy office revealed the positive
impact of the ESNCM’s music programs in four different
areas of students’ lives: psychological health, skills development, family relationships, and social relationships.
Among the main achievements were: positive impact on
self-confidence; academic performance, notably in mathematics; teamwork; and cultural identity. The study will
soon become available on the ESNCM’s web site.
Rima Tarazi and Tania Nasir: a musical
commemoration of the poet and national
leader Kamal Nasir (1925-1973)
he paid with his life, (he was assassinated by an israeli
death squad in Beirut in April 1973 along with two other
Palestinian leaders: Kamal Idwan and Mohammad Yousef
Al Najjar, and Al Najjar’s wife, Rasmiyeh Abu El Khair).
On this occasion, the ESNCM issued a booklet of all his
poems that were put to music by the various composers,
with a short synopsis of every composer. The book
includes tributes written by Nizar Qabbani, Mahmoud
Darwish, and Fadwa Touqan.
Arab and Balkan music meets
jazz in Norway and Serbia
The ESNCM held two unique concerts in collaboration
with Palfest and Birzeit University, commemorating the
birthday and martyrdom of the poet Kamal Nasir. Under
the title of his only work published during his lifetime,
”Jirahon Tughanni” (singing wounds). Performances were
held at the Friends Boys School in Al Bireh on the 18th
of April and another on the 20th of April (the date of his
birth), at the Kamal Nasir Hall of Birzeit University.
The musical program consisted of a medley of Kamal
Nasir’s anthems and long poems, composed mainly by
a group of musicians who studied and taught at Birzeit
College, and was performed by a choral group of seven
singers, with the soprano Tania Tamari Nasir accompanied
by composer Rima Nasir Tarazi on the piano. The program
was preceded by a live recording of Kamal Nasir’s voice
reciting his poem, “a letter to my mother”, accompanied
by the music of Palestinian composer Salvador Arnita,
and a projection of a number of photographs spanning
various phases of his life and struggle. This was followed
by speeches from Dr. Karim Abu khashan of the Arabic
department of Birzeit University, writer Ahdaf Soueif of
Palfest, Dr. Khalil Hindi, president of Birzeit University and
Rima Tarazi, who dedicated this program to all Palestinian
martyrs, and shared with the audience her personal
experience as a composer and the special relationship
Kamal Nasir had with the nationalist anthem. In her
address she pointed out that Kamal’s interest in music
started ever since his student days at Birzeit College,
during an era in Palestinian history where the nationalist
anthem played an important role in mobilizing masses.
She also pointed out that the program aimed to highlight
Kamal Nasir’s contribution to the national anthem as
someone who expressed with total commitment through
poetry, the aspirations and struggles of his people,
through several phases of Palestinian history, for which
From May 10th to the 14th, ESNCM students from
Jerusalem, Ramallah and Bethlehem performed at
the Trondheim JazzFest in Norway, alongside young
traditional musicians and professional jazz artists
from Serbia, Bosnia, Romania, Croatia and Norway. Led
by Serbian accordionist and composer Jovan Pavlovic
and funded by the Norwegian Tutti Foundation, the
Palestinian students introduced Palestinian music,
including a piece by Simon Shaheen, to the international
group of students and professionals, who made their
own jazz arrangements of the music as a group, with
the Palestinian musicians helping arrange folk music
from the Balkans, Argentina and Norway. Following the
festival in Norway, the Palestinian students were invited
to perform a concert organized by the city municipality
in Belgrade, Serbia, and a private performance for music
professors and diplomats in Serbia, held at the residence
of the Norwegian Ambassador to Serbia (and former
Ambassador to Palestine), Nils Kamsfag. The group has
been re-invited to Norway in November, and two Serbian
violinists took part in the PYO concerts in Nablus and
Ramallah in August. The Palestinian music students in
the group were: Christine Zayed and Sama Salem (qanun),
Samer Rashed (viola), Osama Abu Arafeh (oud), and Alber
Basil on percussion. The Tutti Foundation hopes to bring
the workshops to Palestine next summer, expanding the
Palestinian element of the group.
ESNCM initiates a new summer program
For the first time, five new courses were offered in
Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus, as part of
an intensive six-week semester. During the new summer
semester both new and continuing students, of all ages,
met three times a week with teachers from all four ESNCM
branches. Course descriptions are: “Anamel” intensive
individual instrumental classes for beginners as well as
intermediate to advanced grade students, “Salalem”;
specialized music theory classes for ESNCM students,
“Natateef” (bits and pieces); instrumental orientation
classes in which young students learn the basics of
playing 4 to 6 different instruments, “Sama’i”; a general
music appreciation course of western and Arabic music
for all music-lovers in the community including parents of
ESNCM students, and “Maghna”, choral singing classes in
each branch with a joint grand choral concert at the end
of the summer semester.
Computerized data base
At long last, the eagerly awaited database program,
for the fast expanding ESNCM, funded by DROSOS and
CORDAID, is being prepared by the Birzeit University
computer center. Besides all the student’s academic
records, the computerized human resources program will
cover data of staff and employees, schedules, vacations
etc. In all four ESNCM branches.
“Shusmo” performed several
concerts organized by the ESNCM
On July 25th, Tareq Abboushi and his band Shusmo, from
New York, performed original Abboushi compositions
based on an organic fusion of Arabic music and jazz.
Preceding the Jerusalem concert, Shusmo toured four
outreach posts as arranged by the ESNCM. All concerts
were a raging success on all fronts, and as a result of
the particularly enthusiastic audience response, the
conservatory is sure to expand its ties with the northern
Tulkarm region: Deir El-Ghsoun and Bala’a, Salfeet
(Farkha festival), and Anabta (Wadi Al-Shaeer festival).
‘Sabeel’ with Ahmad Al-Khatib
and Yousef Hbeicsh
Following his performance with the PYO, and celebrating
a rare appearance in Palestine, oud maestro Ahmad
Al-Khatib joined percussionist Youssef Hbeish in an
outstanding performance at the Sakakini Cultural Center
on the 20th of August. Billing the concert under the
title ‘Sabeel’, the name of their first cd as a duet, they
performed a number of very well received compositions
including “The Rose Vendor”, “A Wedding”, “Salma’s
Dance”, and “To Our Friend Alex”.
ESNCM students participate in summer
camps in Sweden and the USA
ESNCM ensembles in the
Jerusalem Festival
Jaber Jubran (qanun), and Mira Abu Zulof (piano),
participated in a 10-day international folk music summer
camp in Ratvik, Sweden. Participants introduced their
community’s music through training and playing with an
orchestra made up of students from various parts of the
world. The ESNCM participants taught their colleagues ‘Bint
El Shalabiyeh’, which was part of a variety program the
orchestra presented in a tour of several Swedish towns.
The ESNCM oriental music ensemble and Maqamat, held
two outstanding performances in the Jerusalem Festival
in July. The first performance was entitled “Mawtini”,
featuring vocalists Marian Baransi from Haifa, and Hani
Asad from Jerusalem, accompanied by a group of ESNCM
student and teacher instrumentalists. In the second
performance, Wafa Al Zaghal led singer Samira Kharrubi
and students from the conservatory in a program of
classical Arabic music.
In the USA, flute student Nai Barghouti participated in
William Patterson University’s 18th jazz festival, part of
the continued cooperation between wpu and the ESNCM,
between the 17th and 23rd of July. Nai’s participation was
privately funded by Mr. Basem Hishmeh.
Bethlehem branch musicians visit Sweden
The graduation ceremony in the three
branches….indicators of joy and progress
The ESNCM has marked the end of the academic year
in its three branches by concerts organized between
17-19the May. The graduation ceremonies included
distribution of certificates for 16 graduates who had
completed the 4th level and received the elementary
certificates. Two students, Yanal Shaheen and Tamer
Sahoury, had completed their 8th levels and obtained
the intermediate certificate.
Educational concerts in Nablus
schools and beyond
Six ESNCM students, mostly from the Bethlehem branch,
led by oud teacher Tamer Sahouri, visited Sweden
following an invitation from the Performing Arts Festival,
Gothenburg (20-22 of June), where they held three very
successful performances and gave a workshop on oriental
music as part of the exchange program with Gothenburg
University. The students were: Bisher Qassis, Jaber Jubran,
Rua Rishmawi, Alber Basil, John Saliba and Ayham Albess.
Throughout March 2011, the ESNCM produced a series
of educational concerts aimed at introducing music to a
number of schools in the Nablus and Toubas governates.
With the support of the Ministry of Education and
the DROSOS Foundation – as the major donor to the
Nablus branch – Ibrahim Atari, director of the Ramallah
branch, Samer Totah (Oud), Ashraf Affouri (Nay), Yacoub
Hammoudeh (Qanoun), and Maher Shafi’ (Violin), gave
performances in thirty different schools in Nablus,
Toubas and Salfit.
The teacher Ibrahim Al-Atari introducing music to one of Nablus’ schools
Angers Orchestra in the Latin Church, Birzeit
The “Orchestre de Chambre
d’Anjou” gives performances in
Birzeit, Ramallah and Nablus
Seventeen young musicians from the Orchestre de
Chambre d’Anjou, based in Angers, France, participated in
the ESNCM general music camp in Birzeit, and delivered
exciting performances of orchestral and chamber music
with the participation of 6 teachers and students from
the ESNCM. The group performed in the Latin Church
and Birzeit Activities Center, Birzeit, the Folklore Camp in
Ramallah, and the Zafer Masri Hall in Nablus.
International music day
On June 22nd, faculty and student ensembles of both Arabic
and western classical music, celebrated international music
day at the French-german cultural center in Ramallah.
A new website
A new updated website in both english and Arabic has
been launched at:
Up-to-date information on all activities, news, and
forthcoming projects, are presented in colored prints and
attractive design with various related links and videos.
Summer camps: Music education is fun!
At the Birzeit Activities Center, summer is a time for intensive group training, music making, sports activities, development
of hobbies, and active entertainment provided by teachers, guest musicians and students alike. This year – 2011 – the ESNCM
organized three main camps. The first, for the Jerusalem Orchestra and choir, was held from June 28 to July 2, and led by
Spanish pedagogue and composer David Galvez. The second, an outreach camp, was held from July 5 to 9, and the third, a
general camp open to all students studying at the 4 main ESNCM branches, assembled from July 11 to 17, included advanced
private classes, chamber music in Arabic and classical western music, jazz improvisation, theory and solfege, music history
lectures, etc. On the last day of each camp, musicians and groups performed with a sense of pride and achievement.
Melodies of Hope gives the chance for Palestinian
refugee children in Lebanon to study at the
Lebanese Higher National Conservatory of Music
A new project has recently been
launched in partnership with
the Lebanese National Higher
Conservatory of Music, in cooperation with the Al Jana Association,
who works with marginalized
communities. It aims at offering
opportunities for talented children
from refugee camps in Lebanon,
to receive a musical education
at the Lebanese Higher National
Conservatory of Music.
After a three day intensive workshop in Brummana school, under
the guidance of seven music teachers, 45 students were selected from
the Sabra and Shatila,Ein Al Hilweh,
Burj Al Barajneh, Mar Elias and Nahr
El Bared camps. The students will
become regular students at the
Lebanese conservatory, with the
ESNCM paying their fees, providing
for their instruments and books,
and following up on their progress
as young musicians.
Commenting on his experience with
the camp children in Brummana,
oudist Ahmad Al Khatib observed:
“it was amazing how talented those
children were, despite the fact that
they had no musical background
whatsoever. It seems that creativity
is often born out of suffering.” The
project was supported by Ms Sirin
Masri (Al-Najwa Tourism Investment
Educational Institution – through
the offices of the FORD foundation –
and by numerous friends and board
members of the ESNCM.
Ruba Anabtawi – Media Coordinator
[email protected]
Photography & Design: Fares Mansour
Translated by: Nadia Aboushi – Edited by: Tim Pottier
Jerusalem +972. 6271711
Bethlehem branch +972. 2748726
Ramallah branch +972. 2959070
Nablus branch +972. 2387773

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