By Ruby Siefken
For The Diamondback
The blare of a brass quintet echoed across The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center Monday night as dozens watched the group perform “Jupiter from the Planets.”
The rendition was part of a concert hosted by this university’s music school and the Arts for All program, which aimed to spread messages of unity and hope amid the recent violence in Israel and Palestine.
Several university musical ensembles performed at the concert as well as opera soloist and associate professor in the music school John Holiday and the Jerusalem Youth Chorus, which showcased a virtual performance. The show’s organizers hoped to use music as an opportunity for reflection and mourning amid ongoing violence in the Middle East.
“We welcome you to reflect upon these difficult times, to mourn lives lost, and to contemplate how we can support each other,” Arts for All director Craig Kier said.
Monday’s concert comes after a surge of violence in Israel and Palestine in the last month. On Oct. 7, Hamas militants launched an attack on southern Israel from the blockaded Gaza Strip that killed hundreds, the Associated Press reported. Israel declared war on Hamas the next day and has since launched thousands of airstrikes that have “wrought unprecedented destruction, flattening entire neighborhoods,” the Associated Press reported.
More than 10,000 people in Palestine and 1,400 people in Israel have been killed since Oct. 7, the Associated Press reported Monday.
The Jerusalem Youth Chorus, an Israeli-Palestinian music group, presented a virtual performance Monday because the choir was not able to appear in person due to the violence in the region.
Micah Hendler, the choir’s founder and artistic director, formed the group to unite Israeli and Palestinian voices through music. He hoped Monday’s performance would help console community members coping with loss and grief.
“We are trying to hold open that space of mutual humanization and I think music is a really critical way to do that,” Hendler said.
Those affected should not tear each other apart, Hendler added.
Several university administrators were also present at the concert, including university President Darryll Pines and senior vice president and Provost Jennifer King Rice.
Rice said that music is a “universal language” and highlighted the importance of the concert in supporting grieving communities.
“This show is a way to bring music to our community to help people deal with the various feelings and experiences that they’re having with war,” Rice said.
Hendler described music as a bridge between different cultural and political boundaries and as an outlet for dealing with trauma.
He added that the Jerusalem Youth Chorus plays a key role in bridging the divide and promoting inclusion during a challenging time.
“We’re able to create a community based on values of inclusion and equality,” Hendler said. “We can create a shared space for our singers where they can really grow up together and experience one another not as a zero-sum game, but as friends, and as allies and as fellow co-creators.”
Like Hendler, Kier emphasized the role of art as a “point of connection” for reeling communities.
“At our core, artists are creators,” Kier said. “We build beauty in the midst of sadness. We shine light where there is darkness.”