Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A report from the opening night of Palestine Music Festival


By Ruth Regan - April 16, 2018
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Section: [Main News] [Culture]
Tags: [culture]

The Palestinian Music Expo (PMX) took place April 11 – 13 at the Grand Park Hotel in Ramallah. It was the second year of the event, which brings music industry related workshops and networking opportunities to Palestinian artists, something they lack access to under occupation, with barriers for instance to their freedom of movement. 

The 24 artists and bands involved also showcase to a live audience and are live streamed around the world. 
 
Faraj Sulieman, a Palestinian pianist opened the 2018 Palestine Music Expo supported by his band. Photo: Rhiannon F.
 
The expo was conscious to showcase a wide variety of genres. Hip hop group Sawa Sawa flitted smoothly between rapping in Arabic and English and made creative use of the stage with freeze frames, mimes and performing from atop a speaker.
 
After Al Raseef performed, a seven piece brass band from Palestine, Syria and Italy, still buzzing from the performance clarinettist Ayham Jalal enthused to Palestine Monitor, “we really enjoyed it!” along with how he couldn’t wait to get back on stage at a local venue in Ramallah on Saturday and in Haifa on Sunday.
 
In an act of solidarity, the event was live streamed at the Great Return March protest in Gaza and several bands dedicated songs to those that have been killed in the past two Fridays of protesting. It was a poignant and bittersweet tribute and a moment of connection between the two occupied territories. The screenings went both ways, with a music video fimed at the Great Return March by Ibrahim Ghunaim, aka MC Gaza, screened for the crowd in Ramallah.
 
Alternative five piece rock band from Bethlehem, Mafar, play at PMX. Photo: Rhiannon F.
 
Already well-known and well-loved to the Palestinian audience are DAM, whose frontman Tamer Naffar performed on the opening evening. Their lyrics spoke truths to the crowd who sang energetically along, translating into “This is my land!” and “Who’s a terrorist? You’re a terrorist! You’re living in my country!”.
 
Dalia Alahmad, attending PMX specifically to see Naffar, told Palestine Monitor she likes DAM as “their music is different,” as well as because they sometimes use a female lead singer. “Their songs deliver real meaning. They somehow explain what’s going on in Palestine,” she said.
 
Zenobia closed the night on Wednesday, fusing electronic beats with Arabic pop melodies and traditional Palestinian Dabke. As the night ended, the crowd danced dabke fused with modern dance in circles, internationals clumsily following suit.
 
Lead photo: Al Raseef perform at the Grand Park Hotel during PMX. Photo: Rhiannon F. 

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