BBC festival features Palestine Strings and condemnation of apartheid to jubilant applause
Nigel Kennedy on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall with members of the Palestine Strings and his Orchestra of Life. [photo: Chris Christodoulou, BBC]
On August 8, seventeen young Palestinian musicians put Palestine on the ‘map’ of one of the world’s most prestigious international music festivals, the BBC Proms. Aged twelve to twenty-three years, they are members of the Palestinian Strings, a brainchild of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, Palestine’s preeminent music institution.
Their appearance at the Proms was a collaboration with the renowned violinist Nigel Kennedy and several members of his Orchestra of Life. Kennedy, well-known for his musical interests beyond the confines of standard Western practice, first learned of the Palestinian musicians from a Youtube video.
The entire concert was based around Antonio Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’. The works’ programmatic character, combined with the improvisatory tradition of eighteenth century Italy, allowed Kennedy the wide artistic freedom that is his hallmark, and the combined ensemble widened this far beyond anything ever anticipated by the ‘red monk’ of Venice.
Vivaldi always the point of departure, the evening drifted into jazz ‘Seasons’ with Kennedy and his OoL, and micro-tonal Arabic “Seasons” with members of the Palestine Strings on violin, viola, and even voice. The result, as described by the reviewer for The Independent, was that “each movement became the framework on which free improvisations would be hung, some comic, some strange, some hauntingly beautiful.”
Mr. Kennedy is the most high-profile classical artist to date to boycott Israel because of its expropriation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine
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