Saving the Spirit While “Saving Gaza’s only grand piano”

Musings on Tim Whewell’s “Saving Gaza’s only grand piano”

Crossing Continents BBC Saving Gaza's Grand Piano

Listen to “Saving Gaza’s Grand Piano” on BBC Radio 4’s Crossing Continents: “When my eyes got used to the gloom of the Nawras Theatre in northern Gaza, I gasped at the scale of the destruction. A tangle of cables, twisted metal and broken lamps hung down like spilled entrails from the shattered ceiling. The luxurious scarlet seats were littered with crumbled plasterboard.  The theatre – one of very few in Gaza – had been expensively refurbished just months before a rocket landed a few metres away during last summer’s war with Israel.”

Saving Gaza’s only grand piano,” celebrates the restoration of Gaza’s one remaining grand piano, which is being used for lessons for and performances by young musicians.

Tim Whewell’s piece ends with Saad Herzallah, the owner of the piano, saying that the music played on it is not haram (sinful or “forbidden by God”), but rather “something that’s really natural. You have music in your body, you have [music in] your heart.” In the PBS radio version, Wewhell interviews a rapper who explains that many Islamic groups, including Hamas, do consider music haram, which limits the amount he or other musicians can perform or sell their music in Gaza.

Amidst all the violence and tragedy that plagues Gaza, it’s hard to fathom that something as innate as listening to music, communicating in our one universal language, is considered, by some, sinful. The thought itself is sinful and damaging to the human spirit. Perhaps when the instrument is played at the concert by young musicians–like Sarah Aquel, who said: “Music might not build you a house or give you your loved-ones back, but it makes you feel better, so that’s why I just keep playing it,”–it will demonstrate the human need for music as a tool to communicate with self, with others, and with the greater universal spirit.   

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