The bds concert

October 22

This blog is called “Music 4 Gaza”, as it all started with a benefit concert for the Music School in Gaza. I have not yet visited the school, but Antoine was invited by Mr. Ibrahim El-Najjar, the director of the school, to practice piano for his recital there. He also handed over the items we were able to purchase and bring, due to the funds and donations collected during the concert. This consisted of sheet music of various types (as requested by the school), strings for violin, cello, and guitar, and a bunch of recorder flutes (donated by M. D’amour in Montreal). Tonight Antoine gives the concert. We are lucky that it can happen, as the day before he was sick and spent the day in his room close to the bathroom. The third (or fourth?) victim of a bug among our group. I seem to have been spared so far (fingers crossed). The hazards of traveling and eating in regions to which one’s immune system  is not accustomed.

The concert is an informal but jolly affair, where Antoine, characteristically, recounts anecdotes and gives explanations in-between pieces of piano and a song adaptation of Woody Guthrie’s ‘I’ve Got No Home In This World Anymore’. A local group takes the stage afterward and  gets the hall swinging with Palestinian folk music. The singer and oud player, Mohammed Akila, has a stunningly beautiful voice that can start very deep and rise to higher registers characteristic of Arabic singing. The event is organised by Haidar Eid, a professor of cultural studies at Al Aqsa and a BDS activist,  with help from Ayah (and perhaps others I am not aware of). Most of the audience are young, mixed, and there seem to be no “beards”. Some of the young women I met at IUG have come. I greet them but as there is little time before the concert I say to them we’ll speak later. But at some point I notice that they have all left. Apparently, I am told, women, unaccompanied, and especially young women, must be off the streets and at home by sundown. We now understand why the concert has been  scheduled for 4 p.m. in the afternoon.







Children from GMS (source: In Gaza :  Music to live by)


A big THANKS – MERCI to all who supported the fundraising event and who came last night!

Special thanks to the lovely musicians who so generously gave their time and talent: Maica Mockingbird, Karen Young and Normand Lachapelle, Benoît Piché, and Antoine Bustros. I enjoyed all of it, and there were some very special musical moments for me in each of the sets. Merci!

Special thanks also to Jocelyne Doray for translating the texts, Andrew Forster for the poster design, and Anaïs Bustros and Maïté Bustros for helping out during the event. Thanks to Casa del Popolo and their support staff for hosting this event.

It was a lovely evening, and we enjoyed it, and we were able to raise a modest sum that will buy some supplies and perhaps a couple of instruments for the school. But mainly, we will be able to arrive in Gaza and bring the children the message that there are people in Montreal who do care, and that although it looks like much of the world has averted its gaze, they are not forgotten by all.

If anyone took photos, please send them, so I can post some.

In mid October Antoine Bustros and I will be traveling to Cairo, and then on to Gaza. We are planning to post a travel blog here in this space … so stay linked …
Máire Noonan

Gaza Music School benefit concert

A population of 1.7 million and only 1 music school for children! Please come next Monday evening and help support the school. Invite your friends.

(English follows)

1er octobre 2012 à 20 h 30
Casa del Popolo 4873, boul. St-Laurent, Montréal. 15 $ -10 $ – 7 $

Conservez vos billets pour le tirage!  La maison d’édition Drawn and Quarterly a fait le don du livre  Jerusalem: Chronicles From The Holy City de Guy Delisle. Vous pouvez gagnez ce livre ou un CD d’un des musiciens.

Venez partager ce moment avec nous. Les sommes récoltées serviront à fournir de l’aide à l’école de musique de Gaza. À la fin du mois d’octobre 2012, Antoine Bustros participera à l’événement « Mettre fin au siège de Gaza » dans la ville de Gaza. Il prévoit emporter avec lui des instruments de musique et des partitions pour cette école.

Les musiciens

Antoine Bustros, compositeur de musique de film, vit à Montréal. Il a fondé l’Ensemble Ulysse pour lequel il crée un répertoire original. Avec les musiciens de l’Ensemble Ulysse, il a enregistré deux albums et il a donné des concerts à plusieurs occasions dans le cadre du Festival Internationale de Jazz de Montréal (FIJM).

Karen Young, auteure de chansons, musicienne et chanteuse au talent éclectique, elle a une longue carrière d’interprète de différents genres musicaux, notamment le folk, le jazz, la musique latino-américaine et d’autres encore. Elle a réalisé de nombreux albums dont plusieurs en collaboration avec le bassiste Michel Donato, et elle figure parmi les chanteuses de jazz les plus connues du Canada. Elle a donné plusieurs concerts dans le cadre du FIJM en compagnie de Donato, et l’un de leurs albums, Contredanse, a gagné le prix Félix pour l’album de jazz de l’année en 1988.

Maica, jeune chanteuse au talent prometteur, vit à Montréal où depuis environ cinq ans, elle participe aux spectacles de différents groupes musicaux. Elle a récemment réalisé un microsillon ayant pour titre Sparcity Blues.

L’école de musique à Gaza

L’école de musique de Gaza, où l’on enseigne des instruments orientaux et occidentaux ainsi que la théorie musicale, est la seule école dans la bande de Gaza où les enfants peuvent s’inscrire à un programme de musique à long terme (pour une population de 1,7 million de personnes!). Elle a été créée en 2008 dans l’enceinte du bâtiment de la Société du Croissant-Rouge palestinien, dans la ville de Gaza, et comptait au départ 31 enfants inscrits. Le 23 décembre 2008, l’école présentait son premier concert public. Quatre jours plus tard, Israël bombardait Gaza. Le 27 décembre, des frappes ont endommagé l’école. Le 14 janvier 2009, quand les forces israéliennes ont directement ciblé l’édifice du Croissant-Rouge palestinien, l’école a été complètement détruite. Après le bombardement, des élèves de l’école se sont rendus sur les lieux avec leurs instruments, et ils ont spontanément commencé à jouer au milieu des ruines. Cette scène émouvante est décrite par le directeur de l’école, Ibrahim al-Najjar, dans une courte vidéo qu’on peut voir en ligne. L’école a été reconstruite avec l’aide financière de l’Agence suédoise de coopération internationale au développement. Le quotidien britannique The Independant a qualifié cette école de symbole de résilience et de courage. L’école, qui depuis avril 2012 fait parti du Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, compte aujourd’hui plus de 125 élèves et elle a besoin de toute l’aide que l’on peut lui offrir.


1 October 2012 at 20 h 30
Casa del Popolo 4873, boul. St-Laurent, Montreal. 15 $ -10 $ – 7 $

Keep your tickets for the raffle!  The publishing house Drawn and Quarterly donated the book  Jerusalem: Chronicles From The Holy City by Guy Delisle. You can win this book or a CD by one of the musicians.

Come and enjoy the evening with us. Proceeds from the concert will be used towards supporting the Gaza Music School (GMS). At the end of October 2012, Antoine Bustros is participating in an “end the siege” event in Gaza city. He is planning to arrive in Gaza bringing musical instruments and scores to this school.

The musicians

Antoine Bustros is a film music composer based in Montreal and founder of the Ensemble Ulysse for which he composes an original repertoire. With Ensemble Ulysse he has recorded two albums and performed several times at the International Montreal Jazz Festival (FIJM).

Karen Young is an eclectic singer, songwriter, and musician with a long career of singing folk music, jazz, Latin music and other styles. She has released many albums, among them several in collaboration with bassist Michel Donato and is one of Canada’s premier jazz singers. She performed at the FIJM several times with Donato and one of their albums, Contredanse, won the Felix Award in 1988 as jazz album of the year.

Maica is a young and upcoming Montreal based singer who has been performing on Montreal scene for about 5 years now in several different bands. She has recently released a vinyl album called Sparcity Blues.

The Gaza Music School (GMS)

GMS teaches eastern and western instruments and theory and is the only school in Gaza where children can enroll in a structured and long-term music programme (for a population of 1.7 million residents!). The school was founded in 2008 inside the compounds of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society building in Gaza city with an initial enrollment of 31 children. On December 23, 2008, the school held its first public concert. Four days later Israel started bombing Gaza. The school suffered damage from a nearby hit on December 27. On 14 January 2009, when the Israeli forces attacked the PRCS building with a direct hit, the school was completely destroyed. Some of the children who were students of the school visited it right after the bombardment. They came with their instruments and spontaneously started playing among the ruins. This heartbreaking scene is described by the director of the school, Ibrahim al-Najjar in a video clip that can be viewed online. The school has been rebuilt with help by the Swedish International Development Agency financial aid and has been called a symbol of resilience by the British Independent. It now has an enrollment of over 125 students, and they need all the help they can get. Since April 2012 the school has become a branch of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music.