Half the Ramallah Orchestra, last Saturday night, at St Anne Church
The Ramallah Orchestra, an initiative of the music conservatory Al Kamandjati, was to perform a free concert at Saint Anne Church in East Jerusalem on Saturday night, 30 June. The concert was organized with the assistance of the French Consulate, and would have built upon previous, highly successful Al Kamandjati concerts at the church.
On the morning of the concert, Al Kamandjati was forced to cancel it.
Church door, with concert announcement
Approximately half of the international ensemble’s musicians are Palestinians. Israel, which militarily occupies East Jerusalem under a de facto annexation not recognized by international law, blocks these musicians from entering East Jerusalem unless it grants them a special permit. Despite every effort to follow Israel’s requirements, none of the Palestinians were given the permits, and so all were prevented from reaching the concert.
In consideration of the many audience members who could not have learned of the cancellation, the remaining musicians of the Ramallah Orchestra, along with conductor Diego Masson, nonetheless continued to Saint Anne Church.
At concert time, to welcome the seated audience, a string quartet comprised of four young Palestinians of 1948 (Palestinians of Israeli citizenship) performed Carlos Gardel’s Por Una Cabeza.
Three orchestra members then read aloud the following statement in Arabic, English, and French :
Tonight we had planned to play a fabulous program for you: the overture to Rossini’s opera ‘The Italian in Algiers’, Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, and the great Eroica Symphony, the third symphony of Beethoven. But we are very sorry that we are unable to play our concert.
The four musicians that you just heard are Palestinians of 1948. The core of our ensemble, about half our musicians, are Palestinians from the West Bank. These Palestinians must secure Israeli permits to enter here, even though Israel’s de facto annexation of East Jerusalem is not recognized by international law. As of this morning, none of our colleagues’ permits had been granted. We are not an orchestra without these musicians, but we stand here tonight in solidarity with them.
We again express our deepest regret that we are prevented from playing our concert for you tonight.
Thank you, on behalf of all the musicians of the Ramallah Orchestra.