Birzeit Nights Festival 2015 Celebrates Art and Folklore

The Birzeit Nights Festival, showcasing artistic and traditional musical performances by three talented bands and troupes, kicked off on July 27 with the sponsorship of the Birzeit University Deanship of Students' Affairs.

The festival, held for the fifth year, hosted Baladna from Jordan, Birzeit University’s very own Sanabel student band and the Palestinian Bara’m El-Funoun Popular Dance Troupe.

Birzeit University President Abdul Latif Abu Hijleh, administration staff, a number of political, academic and civil society figures and students and their families attended the first night of the festival, which was held over two days.

Dean of Student Affairs Mohammad al-Ahmad recalled at the festival’s opening ceremony that the event was first organized as an experiment but become an annual tradition to fulfill the university’s promise to maintain ties with Palestinian society and to express the university’s love for the generations of young people that have kept alive the dream of freedom.

He said the festival is an example of the university’s engagement with society and described it as a melting pot for civilization and modernity. Al-Ahmad also reminded attendees that the festival is a key source of support for the university’s needy student fund.

Singing out the melodies of famous folkloric anthems such as “They say youthful is my country… They say youthful is my country and with rage my country is fenced” and  “By the will of God, I shall plant the green almond sprig,” Sanabel, took to the stage, representing determination and holding fast to the land while saluting Palestine and those who have fallen in its name.

Surprising the crowd, famous Lebanese singer Walid Tawfiq joined the audience of Birzeit Nights via video call and saluted Palestine and its people. He expressed a burning desire to visit Palestine, kiss its soil and pray on it. The Lebanese star reaffirmed that the Palestinian cause remains a shared key cause for all Arabs and prayed for peace to prevail in the Arab world so that the focus may once again fall on Palestine.

Tawfiq played for the audience video clips of songs he has previously performed for Palestine such as “Turn Up the Stone’s Voice” and “Oh Gaza Resist.”

Afterward, Baladna performed a number of songs, such as “Our Country’s Word”, “My Peoples’ Raised Flag”, “There are People Like Trees, with Anemone Coronaria [Hanon Flower] Inside,” and “My Uncle of the Lantern.”

The band’s manager Kamal Khalil said that after standing and singing in Palestine, his dream has finally been realized. “We sang about Palestine for 38 years, and now we finally sing for you," he told the audience.

El-Funoun Popular Dance Troupe wrapped up the first day of the Birzeit Nights’ festival with a show titled “Overlooked,” performed by the troupe’s young members who ignited the crowd and entertained them with both their music and performance.