Building up a new music institution in the Middle East is a wonderful chance and a huge challenge.
Thanks to Al-Quds University my colleagues and I started the „Al Quds University College of Music Project” last year.
Our aim is to connect with the immense cultural richness and musical tradition that has been a part of Jerusalem and Palestine since so many centuries. We do not only want to revive history. We want to especially encourage the creation of contemporary music in the region.
Very often when we start presenting the project we hear the words „Oh music is so nice!” Or comments like “My daughter plays Beethoven and it is so nice”.
To be honest, I do not believe that Beethoven was ever meant to be “nice“. And I wonder if “nice” is a category that is in any form relevant in a country like Palestine.
I believe that music can be everything: soft and supporting, strong and powerful, even dangerous, soothing as well as aggressive and of course it can also be entertaining or simply „nice“. But you can usually discover a story behind a nice piece. And this story, the context, who wrote the piece for which audience under what circumstances can be enlightening and help us to find a new and more intense way to listen and to enjoy.
I have to admit that the most breathtaking experiences while listening to music will not happen when we would try to analyze the piece at the same time. But what we should be aware of is how strong every little piece of music is connected to the world. To our world, the world of the performer and the world of the composer.
Music is no accessory. Music is life. If we reduce music to being a sheer element of entertainment and music education to a simple segment of social status we miss all opportunites and potentialities that lie in music or in the arts in general. And beside all this we risk to become a very bored audience.
Coming from Czech background, every time I listen to Smetana‘s Má vlast ("My homeland") I am deeply moved. Every time I listen to Schiller’s „Ode to Joy” during Beethoven’s 9th symphony I have to cry. Music can make us feel home. It can make us feel united. And if we give it a chance it can help us to understand, to describe and to move the world. It can have a strong impact on our identity and future.
I look at music as a human right. The right of free expression in a language that can reach everyone.
Music needs patience, discipline and hard work. And it needs true commitment. Music – like some other things in life – seems best and most unforgettable if it is performed with full passion and without any compromise. And not with the aim just to be nice...
Petra R. Klose