Palestine has its first national orchestra since 1948

AFP, Thursday 6 Jan 2011

The 40-member ensemble gives its inaugural performance in the West Bank city of Ramallah before touring east Jerusalem and Haifa

National Palestine Orchestra
Palestine National Orchestra plays the Palestinian national anthem [photo: AFP]

The Palestine National Orchestra has made its debut in the occupied West Bank, annexed east Jerusalem and the Israeli city of Haifa under the banner of "Today an orchestra, tomorrow a state."

"Today an orchestra, tomorrow a state," Suhail Khoury, director of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music named after the US-Palestinian intellectual who died in 2003, wrote in the programme.

"Today we are witnessing the birth of the Palestine National Orchestra at a time when the Palestinian struggle for independence is passing through one of its most critical and difficult moments," he wrote.

"We musicians truly believe that a state is not only about buildings and roads, but most importantly it is about its people, their values, their arts and their cumulative cultural identity."

Khoury said that such concerts would, "for several years to come, be a one-time annual event... until this orchestra will become a full-fledged, full-time orchestra based in a free Palestine."

Before full houses and enthusiastic audiences, the orchestra played concertos by Mozart and Gyorgy Ligeti as well as Beethoven's Symphony No 4, after starting each concert with the Palestinian national anthem.

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