Al Manara (meaning The Beacon) is a Belgian-Palestinian ensemble built on the collaborative juices and musical dialogue occurring between Ramzi and the Belgian pianist, conductor and composer Éloi Baudimont. The pair was introduced by Yanic Samzun, Secretary General of Cultural Presence and Action (PAC*), who viewed the two artists as possessing both great passion and the ability to cross musical boundaries. The repertoire builds on Ramzi’s and Éloi’s compositions, poems of the beloved Mahmoud Darwish, and an East-West blending of Palestinian melodies, European polyphony, big-band harmonies, Arabic and European instruments, and a host of historic and contemporary influences that have taken Ramzi into a yet-uncharted exploration of the possibilities brought to life by the bouzouq. The ensemble has toured France, Belgium and Palestine and has released one CD to date.
Named after a style of song performed in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, the word Dal’Ouna stands for the communal values of synchronicity, collaborative work and mutual support required for a successful olive harvest, for building a home, or producing a life cycle event.
For the members of the PNEAM, the creation of a classical Arabic ensemble in Palestine was a dream come true, and judging by the ecstatic response of Palestinian audiences to the ensemble, it is an unforgettable experience for them as well. “The connection between me and tarab music was always through the recording, radio or television, but tarab is a live thing” Ramzi explains.
musical direction, composition and arrangement for “Spirit on the Water”—the festival’s opening performance—which explored water from musical, spiritual and ecological perspectives. The epic saga that unfolded on the stage was an abstracted homage to water as a source of life, an inspiration for the sacred, and a magnificent ecological fable.
Ramzi was born in Bethlehem in 1979 and he spent his childhood in Al Amari refugee camp (Ramallah). In 1997, he met the music by chance and joined then the Edward-Said National Conservatory of Music; he got then a scholarship to go and learn viola in France, where he got his music diplomas. While there, he created Al Kamandj.ti Association in order to bring the same opportunity to the other Palestinian children. Today Ramzi is a viola and a bouzouq player. He is also the founder of Dalouna, a Palestinian music group who tries to highlight the classical and folkloric Palestinian and oriental repertoire. In 2010, he created the National Ensemble of Arabic Music of Palestine.