The decision to bring the Palestine Youth Orchestra to Britain for a summer tour was a brave one. It’s a monumental task getting visas for 85 young Palestinians. Unable to rehearse together at home, the PYO have been rehearsing at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland between 18 July and 24 July.
They are playing in Perth, Glasgow, Leeds, Birmingham, Cardiff and, finally, on Monday August 1st, at the Royal Festival Hall in London.
In a speech in the House of Lords the Conservative peer Lord Cope, chairman of the UK Friends of the Palestine Conservatory, recounted some of the problems they had had in arranging the tour:
“Music opens hearts, but not quite all hearts. Two 15 year-old students of the Gaza Music School passed auditions to join the tour, necessarily by Skype, as it is the only way they can do it. We got them visas for the UK, but they were refused permission to leave Gaza for the two weeks of the tour by the Israeli occupying power.
“I was told it sometimes gives permission to leave for medical or educational reasons but that participation in the tour was insufficient reason. What a blind counterproductive cruelty that is.”
On their first UK tour, they will perform music by Beethoven, the pop-inspired Metal by British composer Graham Fitkin, songs made famous by legendary Arab singers Fayrouz and Om Kolthoum, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.
Ludwig Van Beethoven: Overture, Leonore No.3
Graham Fitkin: Metal
Zakaria Ahmad: Biridak ya Khaliki
Rahbani Brothers: Ahtarif al huzna wal intizar
Rahbani Brothers: Rudani ela biladi
Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition orch. Ravel
Arabic improvisation from students
25 July 2016 Perth Concert Hall, Perth, Scotland