On Wednesday 3 August, a group of inspiring Israeli and Palestinian musicians took the stage in Cecil Sharp House for an uplifting evening of music, promoting their message of peace and equality through compelling lyrics and energetic sounds.
It was music with a powerful message. The six talented musicians are from a group called Heartbeat, an organisation that brings young Israeli and Palestinian musicians together to break down barriers, build understanding and make music.
Speaking to one musician, he said: “It [music] is a positive thing to put on the table. Usually when people deal with this conflict it is from a negative point of view, you have to find which side you are against. The music gives you a positive platform. You can just say that’s good, I love it and I can support it. Making music balances it out and you can get to know each other on a deeper level. You can deal with hard things in a positive way.”
Another echoed these thoughts: “It’s simple with music.”
It certainly seems so when Heartbeat perform live on stage. Accomplished musicians, they bring the audience with them on a journey through their songs, and their life experiences.
These range from the comical song ‘Make Hummus Not War’, to the more seriously toned ‘Kulshi Sababa’. This translates as ‘everything is cool’, and is a satirical comment on the commonality of violence and bombings. As the lyrics state: “I went down the market, what the heck? All of the sudden – a missile! Everything is cool.”
“We wrote a song about it while listening to the missiles falling”, explained the lead singer to the audience. The haunting melody of this song accompanied by the combative guitar and bass backing were evocative of the sounds of war, bringing the reality of living through conflict right into the room.
Similarly, the twist on words taught in army training “Stop, stop or I will shoot you” resulted in the song lyrics: “Stop, stop or I will love you” allowing Heartbeat to challenge negative elements in society, and transform them into tools for peace.
You can see the pride in Director Aaron’s eyes as he watches them from the front row of the audience. The support he gives to Heartbeat has been invaluable in propelling them from small beginnings into an organisation that has played in Germany, toured the US, and now the UK. Heartbeat’s performances at WOMAD festival went down with similar acclaim, helping them to amplify their voices across the globe.
Shouts of “encore, encore” greeted Heartbeat’s final song, by which point every single member of the audience was up on their feet and dancing. The rhythm of the music and the down to earth humanity of the musicians was infectious. The audience left Cecil Sharp House that evening uplifted, inspired, and brimming with the passion and energy of these young performers.
Encore is what we should be shouting for all organisations who approach deep divisions and brutal violence with such humanity, equality and non-violence. We are incredibly proud to support such inspirational individuals and were delighted to see the impressive turn out from everyone who believes in their call for nonviolence, trust and understanding. Heartbeat show the diverse ways local people come together to find their own solutions to conflict, and to overcome them peacefully. Together we can support their work, amplify their voices, and let their messages of peace ring out.