Music never fails to lift our spirits. What a joy it was to bid farewell to a year filled with so many sad events, with the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Edward Said National Conservatory of music. December 30th was a very wet and foggy evening and heading to Birzeit University was quite an ordeal. But when we eventually got there, I was pleasantly surprised to find the Naseeb Shaheen Hall already packed for that special program. The program included a variety of items, starting and ending with the Palestine Orchestra performing under the baton of Sian Edwards from the United Kingdom. The opening piece was by Dmitri Shostakovich, followed by an oriental Dance by Salvadore Arnita, who taught music at Birzeit in its earlier days as a high school.
Other items were by the Arabic Music Orchestra and the String ensemble performing music composed by teachers and graduates Dina Shilleh, Mohammad Nijim, Tareq Abboushi and Ahmad el-Khatib. Ramzi Shomali played the piano piece, an oriental Waltz, composed by Amin Nasser. The Palestine Orchestra played the well known song by the Rahbani Brothers “Take me back Home” with soloist Nai Barghouti, one of the graduates of the Conservatory. In between there were few words by the founding members, Rima Tarazi, Nadia Abboushi, Amin Nasser and Suhail Khoury. Rima made a special mention of the late friends and supporters of the conservatory, Edward Said, Edward Karkar, Gabi Baramki, Ken Landis and Diana Taqi-eldeen. A slide show appeared on the screen in between the music showing the different stages of the development of the conservatory, which started in Ramallah with 40 students and now has six branches including one in Gaza and an out-reach program in Hebron which altogether serve around 2000 students.
The program ended with the first movement of the 25th Symphony by Mozart and The Hungarian Dance No. 1 & 5 by Johannes Brahms. The clapping did not stop, and one could see the joy on the faces of the people as they gathered for a reception after the performance.
May the New year mark the beginning of a new era of joy, justice, peace and freedom for all the peoples of the world, And Long Live Music.