In 2009, MECI partnered with world-renowned violinist, Nabeel Abboud Ashkar, Director of Barenboim- Said Music Center to expand our music program and command a proactive role in creating more educational opportunities for children in Beit Rima.
Through a rigorous selection process, which tested students' musical aptitude, Director Ashkar selected ten girls to receive violin and cello lessons from prestigious instructors. Partnering instructors travelled from Ramallah to Beit Rima once a week to provide musical training to our talented, young musicians.
By 2010, MECI's music program was extended to boys from first through sixth grade, adding clarinet and flute lessons to compliment notes of string instruments ringing through the school halls. Once MECI counselors completed the development of our advanced music education program in 2011, choir and guitar lessons also became available to students.
2012 presented an incredible accomplishment when 30 students from MECI gathered with students at Barenboim-Said Center in Ramallah to perform a youth symphony concert for parents and families from neighboring villages. The European instructors soon doubled their weekly involvement in music lessons.
Of these instructors, the distinguished Gennady Kozhevnikov of the Barenboim-Said Center, brings his experience as Principal Conductor for the President Military Orchestra to initiate a brass section for MECI students. Mr. Kozhevnikov currently shares his time mentoring our students and guiding children of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music to elevate their musical achievements.
Last month, MECI attended the Classical Concert Series hosted by Barenboim-Said Foundation. After a captivating performance by internationally-known, Garnati Ensemble of Spain, one MECI counselor expressed with gratitude, "In my life, I never thought I would see this kind of performance, and in my village not the large town of Ramallah. Truly amazing!"
Diego Alamar is a Spanish choir conductor, composer and music pedagogue. As conductor and composer, he has performed in many countries all over the world and made several recordings. As a pedagogue, he has designed and developed international music programs in Spain, Argentina, and Bolivia, putting some efforts in music education for children with special needs. Since 2009, he has been developing his professional life in Palestine, where he currently lives, working for the Barenboim- Said Foundation.
Peter Thiemann, Cellist Instructor, provides music training to all MECI counselors. He currently teaches advanced music theory to students, and conducts the choir with over 40 children at MECI. He stated, “One of the most forgotten areas in general education is the music subject. It has been widely proofed that learning music helps students in terms of abstract thinking, self-confidence, self-expression abilities and group empathy, amongst many other educational areas. Barenboim-Said Foundation's project in Beit Reema intends to reach all these goals there, where the properties of music teaching becomes more important, due to the social and political issues that these children have to suffer.”
“I am cellist Peter Thiemann. For the last 25 years I have been serving as principal cellist at the Barcelona opera house and I am professor of cello at the Barcelona music academy. In 2005 I joined the Barenboim – Said Foundation as a cello teacher. Since then I spend about 5 months every year in the West bank coaching young cellists who start with me from the very beginning. Some of them are very advanced by now and have been able to participate in high-level music summer courses in Europe.
It’s great to be part of MECI’s Beit Rima music education program. When we started the children had never had contact with or access to classical music, nor did they see a violin, a cello, a clarinet or a flute in their life. The children’s incredible enthusiasm makes our hard work possible. Playing an instrument needs ear training, lots of singing, knowledge of basic music theory, discipline during lessons and practice hours. All this was new and therefore a challenging experience.
By now my students know enough about the cello that they can easily manage to read and play all kind of songs and easy compositions. Two individual lessons per week, chamber music, weekly orchestra rehearsals, monthly student’s concerts and intensive workshops at Easter and summer time are now part of their daily life. I believe that music and music education as they receive it through the MECI – Barenboim – Said Foundation cooperation will influence their life in the most positive way.”
Nabeel Abboud Ashkar
Nabeel Abboud Ashkar: Director, Barenboim-Said Center and internationally known violinist from Nazareth
“I strongly believe that the cooperation between MECI and the Barenboim-Said programs has created an educational model that has the power to change the education and cultural scene in Palestine.”