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Mozart Festival Held in Occupied Palestine

April 20, 2007

For the past two weeks, an extraordinary Mozart Festival was held in occupied Palestine. Ha'aretz reported, April 18, that The Palestinian Mozart Festival included 50 works, with solos, operas, ensembles and orchestral works. Some 20 concerts were held, as well as films, master classes, and workshops, in cities throughout the West Bank, where Palestinians had to run the gauntlet of checkpoints and security checks in order to reach concert halls.

In the city of Nablus, where only a few weeks ago the Israeli military was conducting a series of brutal military incursions, the Choir of London held a concert at the Al Masri Cultural Center. The American clarinetist Douglas Metcalf performed a Mozart Quintet with a string quartet from England. Later in the evening, the choir performed Miserere K.85, and the Ave Verum. The audience included a group of children aged 6 to 8 who, according to the Ha'aretz correspondent, "sat in total silence, staring wide-eyed" at a performance the likes of which they had never seen.

In Bethlehem, the Choir of London performed the Magic Flute, and in Ramallah they performed Mozart's Requiem. Many of the performers were Palestinians, including the international Soprano and Jordanian native, Dima Bawab and 14-year old violinist Jenna Barghouti.

John Harte, a member of the Choir of London and one of the musical directors of the festival, said, "This tour made us realize that music has far more roles than we imagined. Not only musical harmony, which is supposed to encourage harmony between nations, as many think, but also a means of objecting, a socio-political declaration, an expression of despair in politics and its failures and also an outlet from stress and worry."

Harte said the foreign performers stayed in the homes of Palestinian musicians and not five-star hotels. "There is a tremendous amount of work," Harte said, "but if the choice is between making lots of money in London and Germany, or singing here on Easter, I have no doubt what we and the Choir prefer."

Arab Youth Philharmonic Orchestra
Debuts In Europe

July 31, 2007

On the anniversary of the death of Robert Schumann, July 29, the Arab Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (AYPO), the first such pan-Arab youth orchestra, held its European debut in the Bonn University with a program including a modern piece of Arab music composed in the Classical style, Schumann's Concerto for cello in A-minor opus 29, and Felix Mendelssohn-Bartoldy's "Italian" Symphony in A-major, nr. 4.

The orchestra was founded in July 2006 on the initiative of Fawzy El-Shamy, former director of the Cairo Conservatory, and Prof. Walter L. Mik, music director of the Bonn University. The two traveled throughout the Arab world holding auditions at conservatories, and selected a group of 50 musicians between the ages of 18 and 28. Their first concert took place in Damascus last summer, at the height of the Lebanon war, with a program including Antonin Dvorak.

Although there are several youth orchestras, this is the first pan-Arab orchestra, and it includes musicians from eleven Arab countries. The intention, according to Prof. El-Shamy, is to promote Arab unity, and to enhance the dialog between the Arab world and Europe through the classical music of both. Upcoming plans include a tour through Arab countries, with a program featuring Ludwig van Beethoven.

EIR attended the concert, and conducted short interviews with the musicians as well as the founder, Prof. El-Shamy, which will be made available for publication.

Science Project Brings Together
the Major Players in the Middle East

August 13, 2007

The SESAME project, a step towards a war-avoidance policy in the Middle East, involves the construction of a world-class synchrotron radiation facility near Amman, Jordan. It is making significant progress, according to the IAEA. The building already exists, and the facility is expected to be operational in 2010. SESAME--Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications for the Middle East--has participation from Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestine Authority, and Turkey. Kuwait has observer status, and Iran and Iraq have applied to become members.

The synchrotron--a huge particle generator--will generate intense beams of X-rays and ultraviolet light, to support research and development advances in medicine, physics, and other fields. Already, fifty young engineers and scientists from the Middle East have been trained in accelerator technology, and 18 have spent two years working with groups of scientists in European laboratories. The initial equipment came from Germany, where an older machine was being dismantled and replaced. The IAEA has provided $1 million of support for SESAME.