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Being Free in Music

«I don't have a typical day», says Palestinian singer Kamilya Jubran [1] and laughs. In the podcast she talks about her biography, living as a musician in Europe, the power of music, and her song «Suite Nomade, Pt. 1». The collaboration with double bass player Sarah Murcia is based on poetry from World War I about the state of war and how it effects fragile communities. For Jubran a poem that hasn't lost any of its topicality: «I look today how we live in Israel, in Palestine – and not only there, in many other countries – and I find that this is written today.» A podcast from the Norient exhibition Seismographic Sounds [2], produced by her longtime musical partner Werner Hasler [3].

Kamilya Jubran & Sarah Murcia: «Suite nomade, Pt. 1»

This poem by Bedouins from the Sinai speaks of hardship that war brings upon people. Kamilya Jubran and Sarah Murcia translate these orally transmitted words from World War I into contemporary Arabic music. The singing of Jubran and the sounds from the double bass evoke the silence after the war.

Quotes from the Podcast

My name is Kamilya Jubran. I’m a singer, musician and a composer. I’m a Palestinian born in Israel and I lived in the Galilee for eighteen years. I moved to Jerusalem in 1981 to study at the Hebrew University and a year later I joined the freshly established Sabreen group, who I worked with for twenty years. I lived in Ramallah as well during the first intifada between 1988 and 1993, and circulated between Ramallah and East Jerusalem. In spring 2002 I got a scholarship for a residency program offered by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia in Switzerland. The timing of this program was just right and coincided very much with my need for a break to recharge my batteries and refresh my thoughts. I stayed in Bern for two months, during which I took time to listen to my inner voice and thoughts. I also met different artists living there and came to understand their different artistic tendencies.

My parents introduced me to Classical Arabic music at a very young age. In my eyes they found in music their refuge and a way to protect and maintain their inner peace, in the context of the immense political change imposed in their area after the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Through music and instrument-making, my parents managed to create this little paradise in which I grew up.

Having decided to stay in Europe since 2002, I started to compose my own music for the first time in my life. I was fortunate to have met musicians who think and work in similar ways: who question the music they want to do, who don’t care whether their music will or won’t please people – musicians who believe in what they do and defend it. With my first attempts I began experimenting with electronic music, but people who were used to the music I sang with Sabreen didn’t respond too well. They wanted me to sing the style they knew.

With my music I want to be free. I want to walk on undiscovered lands, to connect with my roots and keep doors open to other people’s experiences and ways of thinking. I want to be the same person carrying my past and present, while living a new existence. I’m refusing to be a prisoner of that past and present.

This quote was recorded by Werner Hasler and published first in the second Norient book «Seismographic Sounds» [4].