Israel refuses permits for Palestinian musicians, concert cancelled
Ramallah Orchestra’s performance of ‘Eroica’ in Jerusalem is cancelled due to Israeli interference
By Tom Suarez
July 2, 2012
The Ramallah Orchestra, an initiative of the music conservatory Al Kamandjati, was to perform a free concert at Saint Anne Church in East Jerusalem on Saturday night, 30 June. The concert was organized with the assistance of the French Consulate, and would have built upon previous, highly successful Al Kamandjati concerts at the church.
On the morning of the concert, Al Kamandjati was forced to cancel it.
Approximately half of the international ensemble’s musicians are Palestinians. Israel, which militarily occupies East Jerusalem under a de facto annexation not recognized by international law, blocks these musicians from entering East Jerusalem unless it grants them a special permit. Despite every effort to follow Israel’s requirements, none of the Palestinians were given the permits, and so all were prevented from reaching the concert.
In consideration of the many audience members who could not have learned of the cancellation, the remaining musicians of the Ramallah Orchestra, along with conductor Diego Masson, nonetheless continued to Saint Anne Church.
At concert time, to welcome the seated audience, a string quartet comprised of four young Palestinians of 1948 (Palestinians of Israeli citizenship) performed Carlos Gardel’s Por Una Cabeza.
Three orchestra members then read aloud the following statement in Arabic, English, and French :
Tonight we had planned to play a fabulous program for you: the overture to Rossini’s opera ‘The Italian in Algiers’, Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, and the great Eroica Symphony, the third symphony of Beethoven. But we are very sorry that we are unable to play our concert.
The four musicians that you just heard are Palestinians of 1948. The core of our ensemble, about half our musicians, are Palestinians from the West Bank. These Palestinians must secure Israeli permits to enter here, even though Israel’s de facto annexation of East Jerusalem is not recognized by international law. As of this morning, none of our colleagues’ permits had been granted. We are not an orchestra without these musicians, but we stand here tonight in solidarity with them.
We again express our deepest regret that we are prevented from playing our concert for you tonight.
Thank you, on behalf of all the musicians of the Ramallah Orchestra.
History of Al Kamandjati
Ramzi was born in 1979 in Bethlehem. He spent his childhood and youth in the refugee camp of Al-Amari in Ramallah, where his grandparents went after they were expelled from their house in Naani in 1948 (in the suburbs of Ramla, Palestine).
In 1987, at the age of eight, during an Israeli military operation, his best friend was killed. Ramzi took part in the first Intifada – “uprising” in Arabic, often called “war of stones” – that took place between 1987 and 1992. More.
As an experienced street combatant on the make, Ramzi seemed destined for an Israeli prison or a Palestinian martyr’s poster. But fate decided otherwise.
At seventeen, he was invited, by chance, to a music workshop in the Popular Art Center, in Al Bireh, directed by Mohammad Fadel, a Palestinian from Jordan.
He fell in love with music and started to learn the viola.
After studying for one year at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (ESNCM), and after attending a summer workshop in the United States – in the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music of New Hampshire – he entered the Conservatoire National de Region d’Angers in 1998, thanks to a grant from the French government. In 2005, he was awarded the “DEM” gold medal for viola, chamber music and music theory. He learned to play the piano and he played in the orchestra as well.
He created the ensemble Dal’Ouna in 2000. Dal’Ouna’s music symbolizes the link between East and West, where the twain meet, for it emerges 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.).
Angevin activists, members of the AFPS, on the initiative of Ramzi, who was nominated as first president of the association.
The first General Assembly of the Al Kamandjâti Association took place on the 26th of March, 2004 in Angers : Ramzi Aburedwan (President of the Association), Karim Rissouli (Vice-president), Yamma Amraoui (Secretary), Marie Albert (Vice-secretary), Marie-Paule Bocher (Treasurer), Catherine Bocher (Vice-treasurer), Jocelyne Benchamakh, Chantal Caure, Christophe Couvreur, Anthony Fardeau, Catherine Ferrari, Elsa Ferrari, Gwenael Gicquel, Yacine Laghrour, Jean-Noël Loget, Hélène Oudjani, and Antoine Roland.
U.S. Consulate, Jerusalem
June 23, 2011
Forty young musicians from refugee camps, villages, and cities throughout the West Bank travelled to Jerusalem on June 22, 2011, for a special concert performance sponsored by the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem. Al Kamandjati Association’s “Orchestra Ramallah” performed at Al Hakawati Theater in East Jerusalem as a part of its annual Music Days Festival. The youth orchestra consists of young Palestinians whose love of music inspires them to participate in Al Kamandjati’s rigorous after-school and intensive summer musical training program in Ramallah and throughout the West Bank.
In support of Al Kamandjai’s long-term goal of creating a world-class Palestinian youth orchestra, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem have sponsored Al Kamandjati since 2008 with grants that assist with student tuition, salaries for American instructors, concerts, and an annual summer music camp. The 2011 summer music camp begins June 25; 100 youth will participate in the camp, which will bring together aspiring young Palestinian musicians and professional Palestinian, American, and international musicians for one week of musical training and daily concert performances at Talitha Kumi School. For the fifth year in a row, renowned American violinist Peter Sulski will serve as the camp’s Artistic Director.
American Cultural Affairs Officer Cynthia Harvey praised the Al Kamandjati Association for its dedication to Palestinian youth and its efforts to promote cultural development and international exchange at the community level. She also commended “Orchestra Ramallah” for its impressive performances of Beethoven and Marcel Khalife.
The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem’s support of Al Kamandjati is one of many educational, cultural, and professional development exchange programs sponsored throughout the year in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip to promote dialogue and mutual understanding between Palestinians and Americans.