Freitag, 19. Oktober 2012


Al-Quds University started a new academic music project for Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories. Aim of the newly established Al-Quds University College of Music Program is to provide musical education, professional training and academic activities at the highest level for young performers, composers and scholars in an environment that stimulates creativity, artistic performance, innovation and research.

Professor for violin Edua Zadory at a concert in Ramallah

The College of Music Project operates within a network of Palestinian and international academic music institutions and offers talented students from all backgrounds the chance to develop their knowledge, musical skills and artistic expression which will help them to contribute to musical life in Palestine and abroad.


The launching event of this new music program was the first Al-Quds College of Music Autumn Academy which was supported by the German Representative Office in Ramallah and presented various concerts, artist panels and exhibitions.

Aglaia Mika, Raed Said and Wassim Odeh

Venues of the Autumn Academy were the University campuses in Jerusalem and Abu Dies as well as historical places and buildings in the Old City of Jerusalem like the Patriarch's Pool or the Hammam Al Ayn and Hammam Al Shifa at the Centre for Jerusalem Studies. The last concert on October 10th took place at the Khalil Sakakini Centre in Ramallah.

Singers of the Scmidt's Girs College in Jerusalem

The Al-Quds University College of Music Autumn Academy wishes to contribute to the cultural revival of East Jerusalem and the Old City through artistic encounters and performances. The highlight of this concert series was the world premiere of the winning submission of the first Al Quds Composition Award.


"Impossible Grace" a poem written by Indian poet Meena Alexander has inspired the first Al-Quds Composition Award. Alexander wrote "Impossible Grace" while she was poet in residence at Al-Quds University in 2011. 

Poet Meena Alexander and composer Stefan Heckel

"I was haunted by divisions in this city of golden stone and prayers, and the fact that some of the gates are shut to people" Alexander said, referring to ancient gates in Old Jerusalem, and Israel's constant military presence. "And the almost impossible light that edges it all, the mystical Jerusalem."

Selected by a panel of international composers and contemporary music experts, the winning composition received a prize of 1000 Euros and two public performances in Jerusalem and Abu Dies under the artistic direction of Anke Rauthmann, director of the Berlin International Opera.

Stage Director Anke Rauthmann, Set Designer Maria Tupay Duque, Meena Alexander and Stefan Heckel

The goal of the award was to encourage the creation of high quality chamber music that combines the human voice with elements of both Arabic and Western European musical traditions, thus celebrating the cultural uniqueness of the city of Jerusalem.

Al Quds University was delighted to receive submissions from Palestine, Austria, Spain, Finland, Brazil, Switzerland, Poland and the United States.

The poem "Impossible Grace" which has already been published in the United States in a literary journal TriQuarterly Online, was also part of a pamphlet of Alexander's Jerusalem poems, published by Al-Quds University in conjunction with the winning composition's October premiere.


Winner of the first Al Quds Composition Award is the Austrian composer Stefan Heckel. His composition was remarked by the committee of experts for its special instrumentation, its atmosphere, originality and sensitivity regarding the use of Meena Alexander's text.

Stefan Heckel - winner of the Al Quds Composition Award 2012

Stefan Heckel, who has been connected to Jerusalem in his work as an artist for many years, perceived Meena Alexander's poem as a promenade through the Old City of Jerusalem. He composed a musical equivalent to Meena Alexander's lyrics by creating a musical style recalling medieval and oriental sounds choosing the oud as his leading instrument. 

Bassbaritone Christian von Oldenburg on stage at Abu Dies University Campus

The world premiere of "Impossible Grace" was performed by an ensemble of Palestinian and international musicians and was enthusiastically acclaimed by audiences in Jerusalem and Abu Dies. Further performances of "Impossible Grace” are planned for the coming season.

Recording session at Al Quds Educational TV in Ramallah

The piece was recorded at Al Quds Educational TV in Ramallah and will soon be presented by the Al Quds University College of Music.

For further information about the Al Quds College of Music please visit: or contact, Phone: (0) 54 46876 40 or +43 664 2549593.