Throughout 2020 PalMusic has been collaborating with the UK Palestine Mental Health Network for a fortnightly ‘Café Palestine: a showcase of Palestinian culture and discussion on mental health issues facing Palestinian society. Psychoanalyst and co-founder of the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network, Martin Kemp, shared his thoughts on the project:

“The aim of Café Palestine was to create an informal, warm environment in which participants could be in touch with those facing some of the most harrowing and oppressive situations faced by any community in the world today. Our speakers are at the ‘front line’, caring for individuals and families whose suffering is shocking and overwhelming.

The music played at the beginning of each event by musicians from the Edward Said National Music Conservatory, has a very special part to play. Its mesmerising, sublime harmonies bring us together, moulding a sense of our unique solidarity. It introduces beauty into an arena of cruelty and ugliness. We are transported by the courage, passion and accomplishment of the musicians. A theme running through the presentations has been the attempts by the Israeli regime to uproot Palestinian people and deny their identity and culture. Through the music, we are one, reasserting the truth of a national and international community struggling to preserve its integrity.

The performances are a tangible and beautiful rejection of the attempt to deny Palestinian culture and history. We are privileged to listen to music that stretches back into Levantine history, which unites Palestinians with their cultural neighbours. The virtuoso musicians demonstrate the internationalist, transcultural nature of this art form, with pieces ranging from Bach to Piazzola.

The attacks on the ESNCM and the arrest and interrogation of its staff, a day or so before one of our meetings brought home to us how cultural institutions and their staff and students are also on the front line.

We are so grateful that relationships with PalMusic UK and the Conservatory, have been established. We cherish the indescribably powerful contribution of the musicians in deepening the experience and ethos of the Café events. Thank you”.

Heba Zaphiriou-Zarifi, PalMusic UK’s Chairman, agrees on the importance of the collaboration:

“At PalMusic we strive to show the beauty of Palestine and its culture, which is often portrayed negatively and these Cafés have presented a perfect opportunity to do so whilst also engaging with deeper psychological issues faced by Palestinians each day. Through music, we hope we are demonstrating the singing, joyful side of our country, which is of course mixed with deep grief, but also moving forward with the desire to make a healthy contribution to our suffering world. Thank you to UK-Palestine Mental Health Network for this wonderful endorsement of our work.”