This year’s edition of the Palestine International Festival for Music and Dance will open on 27 July and will run until 8 August, with concerts scheduled to take place in Ramallah, Jenin, Jerusalem and Hebron.
Some of this year’s highlights include a concert by 47SOUL, who will bring their electronic Palestinian street music and Arabic Dabke to Ramallah Cultural Palace on 27 July.
The four-member band is made up of Z the People (vocals/synths), El Far3i (Derbakeh/MC/vocals), Walaa Sbeit (percussion/MC/vocals) and El-Jehaz (guitar/vocals).
They identify themselves as an “electro-mijwez, 'shamstep' band” who “speak about freedom of movement, whether that’s sparking new dance styles or singing about breaking down border check points,” according to their Facebook page.
47SOUL revisits the Levantine folk dance the Dabke, “hyping it up with analog synthesizers, drum machines, epic guitar lines, and tripped-out English and Arabic verses from the four singers” creating a new, fresh sound called “shamstep”.
On 28 July, Sweden-based Tarabband will treat the Palestinian audience to unique sound of Tarab (defined on the band's official website as "ecstasy through music") steeped in Western melodies.
Formed in 2008, the six-member band includes Iraqi-Swedish Nadin Al-Khalidi, the band’s main vocalist and Saz player, and five other musicians from Malmö: Gabriel Hermansson (mandolin and guitar), Valter Kinbom (percussion), Ferhat Deniz Fors (percussion), Filip Runesson (violin), and Romain Coutama (bass).
Other highlights of this year's edition include a concert by well-known Tunisian musician Ghalia Benali on 31 July, also at the Ramallah Cultural Palace.
Benali, who was born in Belgium but grew up in the Tunisian town of Zarzis, is known for fusing musical influences and traditions from the East and West, mixing classical Arabic styles with jazz and Indian music.
As well as being a singer, composer and songwriter, but also a successful actress and graphic designer.
Egyptian band Eskendrella are also scheduled to participate in this year's edition with a concert scheduled for 1 August at Ramallah Cultural Palace.
Founded in 2005 by oud master and singer Hazem Shaheen, Eskendrella started playing in underground venues in Egypt before they developed, “shifting between revivals of the nation's classic tunes and ventures into new compositions,” according to their Facebook page.
Some of Eskendrella’s inspirations include famous Egyptian musicians Sayyed Darwish and Sheikh Imam as well as colloquial poets Salah Jaheen, Fouad Haddad, Ahmed Fouad Negm and Amin Haddad.
Palestine International Festival for Music and Dance was founded in 1993 to overcome the cultural siege imposed by Israel over Palestine by inviting artists from different corners of the world to visit the occupied territories through music and dance.
The festival, which is organised by the Popular Art Centre, has hosted a huge array of international and local musicians and dance groups, including artists from Spain, Italy, Greece, Chile, Egypt, France, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, the UK and Turkey.
PIF "attracted large numbers from various villages and cities in the West Bank and also from within the Green Line, thus strengthening interaction and ties between the Palestinians from different regions," according to the festival's Facebook page.
The festival came to a halt between the years 2000 and 2005 due to the “strenuous political and economic situation.”
However, as of 2005, the festival came back stronger, expanding to host its events in cities and refugee camps across the West Bank.
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