member meeting Jerusalem 2008

2 to 4 October 2008

Jerusalem and Ramallah 

The European Forum of World Music Festival gathers over 40 European festivals that network on artistic issues. Regular meetings facilitate collaborations and give an inside on programming and trends. The last meeting was organised by Yabous, the EFWMF-member in Jerusalem, focusing on Palestinian culture. Yabous is a non for profit organisation aiming to revive cultural life in the city, and organising music festivals as well as events on poetry, dance and cinema. The Jerusalem Festival, held yearly in the least week of july, is their main project, programming Palestinian, Arab and international artists in the Tomb of Kings, a major historic site in the city.

The EFWMF-members were treated with a concert program in the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Ramallah, giving an overview of Palestinian music today.

Dam, the militant hip hop group, has already toured Europe, and raps on issues that are close to the life of people. Their blend of hip hop beats, Arabic melodies and daily life soundscapes is very effective.

Basel Zayed is a singer-instrumentalist that performs his own compositions, many of which are set to text by poets. He was accompanied by piano, percussion, flute and cello, while playing various stringed instruments himself. The Samaa' ensemble revives the age-old tradition of makaam. Composed by professors of the conservatory backing two wonderful singers the ensemble did a brilliant performance.

The members meeting also featured meetings with professionals from the region, which gave them the possibility to have a real inside on cultural life in Palestine. Many contacts were made, and the need to find concert possibilities in Europe was stressed. Professional artist have very few options at home and therefore depend greatly on tours abroad.

The EFWMF meeting furthermore discussed various topics linked to the situation of worldmusic anno 2008, set the calendar for next meetings and started preparations for the EFWMF's 20th anniversary events that will start in 2010. Festivals reports were also given, and members started exchanging on their 2009 programming.

The meeting concluded with a guided tour of Jerusalem by Albert Aghazarian, history lecturer of Birzeit University, giving all a very surprising and open-minded insight on this wo,nderfull city.

The EFWMF will next meet at Babel Med, the Worldmusic market in Marseille in March 2009.

By Patrick De Groote

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