The Al Quds College Of Music – Make Music Happen!
It all started as a rather unconventional
idea five years ago. Working as a classical music manager in
Europe and the Middle East,
I was approached by Al Quds University
to develop a College of Music
for Jerusalem and the Westbank.
The aim of the project was to create an open center for
professional music education and to connect with the
immense cultural richness and musical
tradition that has been a part of Palestine
since so many centuries. But it was clear from the
beginning: we do not only want to revive history!
We want to especially encourage the creation of
contemporary music in the region.
The results have already taken us on many exciting artistic
adventures like the discovery of the Syrian composer Yazan Loujami
Soon we were able to win internationally renowned
musicians as teachers in our permanent team
and many famous artists have visited and supported us throughout
the years. I was grateful for the
contributions of several artists of our agency K und K Wien
who were maybe curious to see where their agent
disappears to every month for at least a week. Most of our concerts take place in one of the many
beautiful historic locations that Palestine offers. The Czech Republic donated a beautiful Petrof grand
piano which came all the way from Plzen to Jerusalem and has since then served pianists of
international reputation for their recitals.
A project we are especially proud of is our
outreach program in the refugee camp of
Shuafat. The head of the community center
contacted us after reading about us in the
newspaper. Little did we know about the
waltzing classes we would soon give to girls
from Shuafat, the percussion training, the
instrument building courses for kids of the
camp or the popular piano workshop concerts
by French pianist Célimène Daudet
Music as a Human Right
Music reflects our lives, identities and our believes in the future.
I consider music as a human right.
The right of free expression in a language that
can reach everyone. I therefore believe that music
plays a crucial role in a country like Palestine.
It gives us the chance to overcome walls and borders
and to send out a powerful sign of music and culture
into the world. The most recent example was
the successful Palestinian contribution to the UNESCO International Jazz Day on April 30th this year. In
the very heart of the historic Old City of Jerusalem,
the Austrian Hospice on the Via Dolorosa,
hundreds of people of all nations gathered to listen to
legendary jazz pieces and oriental jazz
UNESCO goodwill ambassador Herbie Hancock sent a message to
that the participation of Palestine in this international event is
“crucial to ensuring that all people
continue to hear this positive message and the music behind it”.
Austrian accordionist Stefan Heckel, percussionist Raed Said from Jerusalem and
oud player Bakr Khleifi fom Ramallah at the UNESCO International Jazz Day 2015.
Palestinian Music Library – global support for Palestinian Music Education
Whenever I tell artists or other music organizations about our promising students I am once again
overwhelmed by the enormous interest, curiosity and will to support. This international
commitment led to spectacular results, one of the most incredible developments is the
establishment of a new Palestinian Music Library.
This library is an amazing example for the power of social media and HELLO STAGE played an
important part in it. About a year ago I sent an e-mail to friends in Europe and the U.S.A. asking if
they would be willing to send spare music material or instruments to Palestine. A few days later I
found my e-mail shared via HELLO STAGE, facebook, twitter and several music platforms in the
internet. Artists I never met before sent their music scores, CDs and instruments. Important music
institutions donated whole sections of their own libraries. Among the many contributions is the
highly precious heritage of the famous Austrian conductor Dietfried Bernet which his widow, actress
Johanna Lonsky very generously decided to donate to the education of young musicians in Palestine.
“Thank you music, for being there when nobody else was”
was a sentence a young female student
has recently posted on facebook. Well, what could be a bigger encouragement for us? But in order to
be there for our students we rely more than ever on the commitment of the international music
community and on the financial support of people who believe in the potential of young musicians
who come from a region of crisis where holding on to your artistic dreams means to follow a rocky
and sometimes literally impassable road. But we just have to make it happen. To make music happen
is what the Al Quds College of Music Project is all about. Everyone who would like to join us on our
way is “ahlan wa sahlan” (Arabic for very welcome) and I promise every step is worth it!
Petra R. Klose
General Manager of “K und K Wien”/Director of the Al Quds College of Music Jerusalem