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Musical troupe brings back ‘untold Palestinian history’ to life

By Camille Dupire - Sep 18,2017 - Last updated at Sep 18,2017

Al Hannouneh choir and musical band performs at the archaelogical site of Darat Al Funun on Saturday (Photo courtesy of Al Hannouneh)

AMMAN — Palestinian cultural heritage on Saturday was brought to life in a musical performance by the renowned traditional folkloric group Al Hannouneh.

Al Hannouneh’s choir and musical band offered the local public a peak into the “untold Palestinian history” through a lively concert mixing tunes from the popular culture with a modernised technical approach, Aseel Alnabali, board member of Al Hannouneh told The Jordan Times on Saturday.

Held at the outdoor archaeological site of  Darat Al Funun, in Jabal Luweibdeh, the concert’s location was “greatly symbolic”, providing a historical scenery for the performers, Cultural Programmes Director at Darat Al Funun, Ahmad Zatari, told The Jordan Times.

Al Hannouneh Society for Popular Culture was established in 1993, with the aim of protecting and preserving memory of the Holy Land by collecting and documenting objects of the region’s heritage. It uses these objects in folkloric performances with a team of musicians, singers and Dabkeh dancers, further reflecting on this rich heritage, a statement by Darat Al Funun said.

“Each ethnic group or nation is shaped by its natural heritage and local culture. It is the symbol of its past, customs and the conflicts which helped in shaping its identity,” Alnabali said.

“Worried that the new generation would become disconnected with its own history after a century of Israeli occupation, Al Hannouneh sought to provide these youth with information about their nation’s past, heritage and culture through artistic expression,” the troupe’s website stated.

“We use musical tunes that these youth know from their parents or grandparents, but we modernise it to put the music ‘up to their generation’ in a way,” Alnabali explained, adding that such artistic performances are a way to touch people, to make them feel connected to their heritage and, therefore, to each other. 

“Because they are subjected to media interested in spreading Western values and traditions, the new generation has forgotten about the precious history and the beautiful heritage of their ancestors,” she added.

“The name Al Hannouneh [a wildflower growing in the Levantine region that announces the beginning of spring and is mentioned in the Canaanite mythology] symbolises the continuous conflict between good and evil, and the determination of the Palestinian people to fight for their rights, their land and their culture,”Alnabali said. 

“It shows the continuity of goodness, which blossoms again every spring; we want the youth to realise the importance of preserving the popular culture,” she explained, noting that “popular culture lives within people, it grows between them. If your culture dies, you die with it; preserving popular culture is what Al Hannouneh is all about”.  

Darat Al Funun-The Khalid Shoman Foundation chose to showcase the troupe as part of its year-long programme “Falastin Al Hadara” (Palestinian Civilisation) that celebrates “the continuity of Palestinian history and cultural heritage throughout the ages”, Zatari said.

“A series of talks, conferences and a serious manifestation of the topic will be organised this year to celebrate the 100 years since the 1917 Balfour Declaration; and this concert is an artistic way to showcase the heritage of Palestine in a different form,” the programme director noted.

 “We choose to offer a variety of events to reach out to anyone interested to learn more about the Palestinian history,” Zatari added, citing the upcoming talk by Suhail Khoury, musician and general manager of the Edward Said National Conservatory in Palestine, on Tuesday. 

 

The talk will offer an insight into the beginnings of the Palestinian music scene before 1948, focusing on pioneering Palestinian artists from the early 20th century, Zatari said, adding that this year’s programme will include storytelling, theatre, film screenings and music shows to shed light on “the untold story of Palestine”.

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