Christian Palmieri participated in Morgenland festival

13 oktober 2016

Many young people left their homeland and their studies because of the unfortunate current situation in their countries. (Syria, Iran, Iraq) There are lots of young refugees established in the Netherlands in asylum centers or elsewhere. Among them are numerous young music students with the ambition to study at one of the conservatories in the Netherlands.

The Amsterdam Youth Ensemble is a group of passionate music students from Eastern and Western music culture that was invited to participate of the first edition of the Morgenland Festival from Osnabruck (Germany) in Amsterdam. Each of them with different cultures and music background, from Jazz to rock, classical and traditional to avant-garde, providing their own color to shine in the Morgenland mosaic.

We got together to learn from each other and to create music. Having long and intense rehearsals and workshops everyday provided by Ahmad Al Khatib (Oud) and Moslem Rahal (Ney) we were able to make a fresh repertoire for a concert closing the festival on its last day. The band was leaded by master of oud, Palestinian Nizar Rohana.

The festival was organized by Mascha Christine Ihwe and Tony Overwater. I had the opportunity to talk to Mascha and ask her a few questions over the festival and her experience.

1- Why did you decided to do the festival in Holland, Amsterdam?
A festival dedicated solely to the bandwidth of music from the so called Eastern music culture did not exist. Inspired by, and in cooperation with the existing 'mother' Morgenland Festival Osnabrück I decided to built a space for music and musicians who are masters in this music and who have the openness to develop their musical language. Another strong motivation for me was the fact that the societal and political divide in the Netherlands (as in the rest of the world) needs, next to many other acts, a positive counter balance where cultural and human qualities and excellencies are highlighted and valued. The festival, in its programming of the musical core, but also of the contextualizing program, wants to contribute in a meaningful way to this.

2- Could you share with us your personal opinion of your experience as an organizer?
It has been a challenging, but very rewarding process. Amidst a very strict regime for cultural fund-raising I got a very broad and positive response across the national and local funds. I start with this, as the budget and the pick-up from the founders is the basic testing stone in this process, together with the loyalty of the Amsterdam based partners as the Bimhuis, Tolhuistuin en Splendor. And the participating musicians as Tony Overwater and the other members of the Tessera Ensemble I brought together for this festival and the members of the 'student' ensemble under the guidance of Nizar Rohana where Christian was part of. In terms of musical exchange and development this festival edition was a very one on which we want to built for the future. These processes of collaboration with time where true new formats can be developed should become the core of the festival.
Next to our own appraisal, the public feedback as well as the media pick-up were very very positive. Tessera for ex. got a 4 start review in the Volkskrant, the Duo Kayhan Kalhor and Toumani Diabaté a 4 -star review in Trouw.

3- Would there be a Morgenland Festival 2017 edition?
I want to build on the basis we laid this year. If we manage to raise enough funds or other sources of income to create the spaces of time and musical exchange as described above there will be an edition 2017!

The Amsterdam Youth Ensemble consists of:
Nadia Marak (flute), Jawa Manla (oud), Nawras Altaky (vocals), Kim Jaeger (piano), Christian Palmieri (drums), Ghaeth Almaghoot (clarinet), Modar Salama (percussion). 

During our rehearsals and masterclasses we worked a lot on learning the world of Arabic music, which it can be very different from the western culture. Many pieces in odd meters, almost no harmonies but very unique scales.

In Arabic music, a maqam (plural maqamat) is a set of notes with traditions that define relationships between them, habitual patterns, and their melodic development. Maqamat are best defined and understood in the context of the rich Arabic music repertoire. The nearest equivalent in Western classical music would be a mode (e.g. Major, Minor, etc.)

Muwashahat Rhythms, the Andalusian Muwashahat (plural of Muwashah) are a musical form that originated in Al-Andalus (medieval Spain and Portugal). The muwashah is often composed using a complex rhythm, ranging from 2/4 to 48/4 and greater. A muwashah may use more than one rhythm, although the norm is a single rhythm throughout. Lyrics in a muwashah are poetry in classical Arabic, and must neatly fit the rhythm (every syllable must fall on a beat).

We have learned so much about the Arabic world and its traditions but what caught my attention the most is that music is part of almost everything in our lives. From work to entertainment, education to worship, rest to friendship. As Plato said, “Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind and flight to the imagination”. In a world of culture diversity where values often clash, music hops over across language barriers and unites us no matter our backgrounds. And so, through music, we can come together to make the world a more harmonious place.