“Ever since I was small, these melodies have lived in my mind, and fed my imagination. I heard them on the street, on the radio, on television, then, after I became a musician I heard them on stage, at the theatre.
As in a waking dream, they go on playing constantly in my mind, providing a source to a very strong sense of identity. So I questioned myself concerning their origins, my origins. Passed on from generation to generation, they are the sound and melodic inheritance from the Fertile Crescent, that geographical region the French call the Levant, meaning from where the sun “rises” for them (‘se lever’, in French), more commonly known nowadays as the Near-East.
Although each performer has made these melodies his own over the centuries, their common essence has not disappeared and they continue to carry a sense of belonging to this region now divided into several countries.
The melancholy, the nostalgia I experience every time I hear these melodies seem imprinted into my genetic heritage.
I wish to pay tribute to the origin of this land, to its first inhabitants who, slowly over the centuries, drifted between nomadic and sedentary life, linking the Palaeolithic to the Neolithic, as well as between two lifestyles: that of hunter-gatherers and that of the first established farmers.
I thus wish to pay tribute to my ancestors: the Natufians.
The term “natufian” comes from the eponymous valley of Wadi el-Natuf, located in Ramallah’s high hill country. This is where, near the village of Shoqba in an underground shelter, were found identifiers of populations with a sedentary lifestyle. Following a long process of cultural transformations, Natufian populations began the transition from nomadic hunter-gatherers to that of an agro-pastoral economy. Found in a chronological window circumscribed by two glaciations - stretching from 12 300 BC to 9 600 BC – Natufian culture was first found in Palestine (central hills, Mount Carmel and Galilee) and in Jordan before spreading out, with regional variants, to the whole of the Levant, in a territory stretching from Anatolia to the Sinai, and from the Oriental shores of the Mediterranean to the Euphrates river.
The long settling process will produce the appearance of the first round houses, in pits, the stockpiling of wild cereals and the development of ever-more complex tools. By settling in a given space and concentrating on local resources, Natufian communities will create a favorable environment for the first experiments in agriculture. Little by little, they will also move their deceased closer to their living spaces, while still maintaining for a long time a vision in which the spirit world and that of the living intermingle.
With this new musical project, I would like to be in the present and in the past at the same time. Paying tribute to this nature that was such an integral part of my ancestors’ daily life, evoking unity. While respecting this heritage, I also wish to ground these melodies in my time period, by providing them with a slightly more contemporary frame, using instruments that make us journey through time. The bouzouk and Oriental percussions will provide the nomadic aspect of the repertoire, the oud will serve as mirror to the past and the accordion and synthesiser will bring us back to the present. My colleagues from the Dal’Ouna ensemble will also embody in their own way the contemporary arrangements to this Levantine heritage.”
Scenography note of intention by Alain Weber
“In order to express a musical universe navigating between memories and childhood impressions, covering an undefined period when men set their imprint on a virginal nature, in the first babbling of settled life, still experiencing the blooming of nomadic life, this music will be illustrated by images of organic matter combining stone and earth, sand and plant textures. Old postcards from bygone days, starry nights and images from elsewhere will serve as visual expressions to the musical texture of this concert.”