Sunday, June 28, 2009

Al-Kamandjati Summer Camp 2009, al-Fara'a, the West Bank (part 1)

One of the seminal teaching events for al-Kamandjati of the year is their summer camp, which is a seven-day music festival for their students around the West Bank. Due to the difficulties of moving students from one town to another, this is a chance for all the students to meet and perform with each other. The camp is taking place in the village of al-Fara'a, close to the city of Nablus.

The mornings involve private lessons for all the students. Many volunteer teachers from all over the world came to teach in the summer camp on various instruments.

There are two orchestras in the camp; a junior orchestra made up of string students, and a full orchestra made up of the more advanced players.

Here's me teaching clarinet to one of my students. I'm also teaching composition to a few students; for the younger ones I am teaching them basic writing skills and for the older ones I'm trying to introduce them to counterpoint and tonal harmony.

During the afternoons we have a choir session where the students can all sing together. This is us right before we all sang a song by the famous Arab singer Fayrouz. We also have afternoon outdoor concerts made of up performances by children and faculty.

During the afternoon they have several workshops they can get involved in, including composition, notation, improvisation, and so on.

It's really interesting to see how contemporary classical music is fitting into this; we're doing this piece called "Self-Portrait" which involves a set of boxes on stage with notes on them; it's a bit hard to explain. We're also doing Riley's "In C" and Reich's "Clapping Music."

Here's the improvisation workshop. The children took to it really quickly!

There are also small chamber groups involved in performances.

One of the centerpieces of the al-Kamandjati program is the Oriental Ensemble, a group of performers playing on native Palestinian instruments. The group has been essential in bridging the gap between Western classical music and Palestinians; it was interesting to see that they teach the children Palestinian songs in solfege. Here's them performing at one of the nightly concerts.

The faculty is involved with performances- here's a few playing the Mozart Flute Quartet.

More next time.


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