HAIFA, Israel (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.”
The 40-member orchestra launched its inaugural tour on Friday in the West Bank city of Ramallah, moved on the next day to east Jerusalem and on Sunday night to Haifa, which has a large Arab Israeli community.
“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.