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Festival set to celebrate traditional music from Palestine, overseas

March 21, 2016 6:48 P.M. (Updated: March 29, 2016 1:00 P.M.)
The al-Kamandjati music center in Ramallah. (MaanImages/Chloe Benoist, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- This year will see the inaugural “Musical Journey” festival take place across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, with organizers hoping to bring together spiritual and traditional music from the Palestinian territory and the world.

From March 23 to April 3, the al-Kamandjati Music Center has planned a number of musical performances, exhibits, workshops and lectures centered around music in the cities of East Jerusalem, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin and Sabastiya.

The artistic director of the festival, Alain Weber, a French composer and specialist of world traditional music, has previously served as the artistic director of Fez Sacred Music Festival in Morocco.

“We have been organizing festivals for ten years, but with this one we want to explore the dynamic between spiritual and traditional music,” al-Kamandjati president Ramzi Aburedwan told Ma’an.

“Palestine is a spiritual place. There is a link between the people and the place which is spiritual.”

For Aburedwan, the festival, sponsored by the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, represents an opportunity for Palestinians and visitors to discover or rediscover Palestinian culture.

“It’s hard for people to place Palestine on the map of culture,” he said. “We want to spread the idea of culture being a part of life, not a luxury.”

Aburedwan said at least 200 people were coming to attend the festival from France and Belgium alone, and that he hoped the festival would gain more ground in coming years.

Beyond showcasing Palestinian culture and history, the festival also aims to introduce Palestinians to traditions from elsewhere, with performers and lecturers coming all the way from India, Mongolia, the United States, Italy, France, Tunisia, and Belgium.

“We wanted to show traditions from around the world that Palestinians can’t see and have never been confronted to,” Aburedwan said. “This will also reinforce the idea that Palestinian people need to be attached to their identity and heritage as well.”
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