Palestine’s Amwaj Choir took to the stage across Italy over the past two weeks, with performances continuing in spite of Israel’s deadly raid on the Jenin refugee camp earlier this week.
“It’s challenging to live a beautiful moment, doing amazing music and we cannot forget. It doesn’t mean if we sing, we forget,” Production Coordinator Aleen Masoud told MEMO following Wednesday’s recital in Santa Maria Church, Castelnuovo di Porto.
Amwaj Choir Co-Founder, Michelle Cantoni, also emphasised the sorrow felt in Italy after Israel’s deadly attack on Jenin in which at least 12 Palestinians were killed – four under the age of 18 – and 80 per cent of homes were damaged.
“What happened in Jenin in the last two days is something that made many of us cry. It made me feel really uncomfortable to make the kids perform, so we decided to make a speech before the concert in Rome, which read: ‘We were meant to be here tonight to share a moment of beauty. And we will. But how can we forget what’s happened over the last few days, the atrocities in Jenin?'” he said.
Amwaj, which in Arabic means ‘waves’, is an educational programme for children and youth in Bethlehem and Hebron established in 2015. It is made up of 60 young boys and girls ranging in age from eight to 18.
The choir made the journey to Italy as a part of its focus on cultural exchange and intercultural dialogue. The repertoire performed ranged from Medieval music to contemporary premieres, world music and Arabic classics.
“Some of our songs talk about the want to return to Palestine and it’s a mix of emotions. It’s not easy for those different ages to understand the reality that Palestinians live back home. But being here, we try to stay positive. I think all Palestinians, although it is a daily challenge, try to stick to this home, to the light at the end of the tunnel. And now we’re here. At least that’s what we always try to do: to be strong and to spread awareness,” Masoud added.