On a rare visit to London, renowned cellist, Erich-Oskar Huetter, accordianist, Stefan Heckel and Palestinian quanun musician, Mahran Moreb, present a performance; The Sounding Heart of Jerusalem http://www.soundingjerusalem.com/
Jerusalem is a melting pot of peoples, cultures, traditions, hopes and faiths. It is a place between history and undefined future. Musicians of different cultural and stylistic backgrounds meet for a musical stroll through the Old City. They discover, trace and reflect the multiple voices, the history and the soul of the four quarters. The journey includes the interpretation of traditional and original music on Western and Oriental instruments, improvisations and ambient sounds recorded on selected sites of the City.
I received this email about Friday's gig at St Ethelburga's and I wanted to share on this forum in case other forumista's wanted to comment.
Dear Wallee, I am concerned about this group Melange. I hope this isn't another example of a well-intentioned musical project giving people the impression that all is well by sanitizing the appalling present situation in E. Jerusalem where Palestinians are being forced out of their homes by settlers and the whole of the city being systemically ethnically cleansed.
I know that St Ethelburga's wants to promote dialogue but it is naive to suggest that Jerusalem is just a 'melting pot' of cultures and is avoiding the reality and failing to provide a proper context. I know that Mahran is from the Galilee like Reem so I hope he will be able to give a more comprehensive view of E.Jerusalem than that presented in your publicity: 'a place between history and undefined future'? i.e Israel may succeed in kicking the Palestinians out of Jerusalem. Israel may also appropriate their culture as in mounting the Jerusalem Oud festival while avoiding giving proper acknowledgement to Palestinian culture and Mahran has indeed participated in this festival. The narrative that Israel wants to present to the world is very different from the reality so I would counsel caution over how you present such a project. With best wishes Paul
Thanks for involving me in your concersation about our upcoming concert at St. Ethelburga's. Paul, the concerns you express are very familiar to us and I would like to clarify about our position:
We've been to the Old City, which is, of course, East Jerusalem and as such a territory occupied by Israel. I can only speak for myself, but I am too aware of the tension loaded atmosphere Israeli soldiers create e.g. in the Muslim quarter. My friend, a palestinian musician, was checked more than once with us standing by - it was very humiliating. Our music wishes to remain non-political although I realize that it is almost impossible in a place like Jerusalem and The Middle East. So I somehow feel that the term "naive" you use is not appropriate for us. I think it is a valid thing to play music, even in such a politicised place. The discussion triggered by such a concert, such as we are having here, causes movement and serves some purpose, at least that's my opinion and why I am doing it.
Melange Oriental is a programme originating in a festival called Sounding Jerusalem, founded by our Cellist Erich Oskar Huetter. It has had its sixth edition in 2011. Through the years we have realized that there is no way music can make peace in the area. Our personal decision has been to not play in any Israeli place - which we did in the first couple of years. And to speak out clearly: we are opposed to the so called "normalisation" idea. This year all concerts happened in the West bank and East Jerusalem - and the musicians involved were only Palestinians. Mahran, of whom you talk critically, happens to be born in the Israeli territory which puts him in the position of having a passport while still being a second class citizen as a palestinian. It doesn't mean automatically that he is supporting the Israeli state as you will agree. It would be unfair to judge him just based on the locations were he has played. Musicians earn a living by playing and I can only imagine how difficult decisions can sometimes be in such a place when it comes to earning money to maintain your familiy. I invite you to come and speak to him in person, he will speak for himself.
And since you mention the Oud festival - Erich and I have been invited to come and play but have rejected the offer.
So summing up, our project does not at all intend to draw an idyllic picture of a multicultural paradise city but invites people to listen and, maybe, allow music to open doors which words and political deeds can never pass.
All further details could be discussed on the occasion of the concert (after the show). It would be interesting seeing you there.