Where words fail, music speaks

Two French and one Palestinian violinist perform in Gaza
Two French violinists (left) and one Palestinian perform together in a Gaza City church. (Photo: Asmaa Nassar)

I normally think happy endings are just a myth. The end in my life too often is a sad one. But year after year, I discover how much December can be the best end. Even if it is the coldest month in the year, December makes me feel warm.

With deep silence and anticipation, the music starts with the violinists’ fingers pressing on the strings and stroking with their bows in a calm and artistic way. You can almost feel their hands dancing with their hearts, producing a magical sound.

On a cold evening this December, two French violinists, Peter Sulski and Belina Frenandez, and Palestinian violinist Ramzi Abu Radwan from the West Bank band called Kamanjati (“violinist” in Arabic) performed in Gaza City’s Latin Patriarch Church. The concert was attended by dozens of Palestinian Christians and Muslims. Abu Radwan told us, “I finally was able to participate in the event for the first time in eight years; until now, I was unable to do so” due to the Israeli blockade and occupation that prevent Palestinians from traveling freely within our own territories.

During the concert, the trio played a classic Baroque song, followed by pieces composed by Georg Philipp Telemann, Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

I know nothing about violin or the classical music of symphonies. But it is not about understanding the music, but rather feeling it, “living with” it. When I heard the music, I felt free, as if I was transported to another world. When the violinists played an Irish song, my heart started dancing and blood pounded through my veins. My feet started moving and I felt like I was on a journey through fields and woods, seeing the surrounding nature through the melody. The journey stopped with an intense clapping.

Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.

This quote from Martin Luther captures the scene in the church. Even the children sat quietly as if stillness had descended on them from heaven. I watched the people in the audience closely, and saw one of them tapping his figures on the chair in time with the music and his eyes following the violinists’ fingers.

Regardless of the cold outside, the atmosphere inside was warm. There may be strife between religions elsewhere, but in Gaza, music unites Christians and Muslims. 

* Headline is a quote from Hans Christian Andersen

Posted December 26, 2015

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