MusicThe Arts

The Quest to Save Gaza’s Only Grand Piano

Nobody knew it was there, silently sleeping as bombings rained over the Nawras Theatre during summer’s Israeli offensive on Gaza. Workers at the Brussels-based organization Music Fund found the Yamaha concert piano surprisingly alive, and began restorations in March, with the help of conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim and his Foundation.

The piano is saved, but the theater in which we found it is not. The owner was showing us around with tears in his eyes. He just finished refurbishing the theater at the end of last year. Now the facility was badly hit. He repeated time and again: “Why? Why this building? Why attack this theatre?,” the organization announced in its Facebook page.

Barenboim, the Argentine pianist who financed the restoration, is the only individual to adopt both the Israeli and Palestinian nationality and a vocal critic of Israeli policies. “Gaza is not only rockets and missiles and angry people. The fact that the grand piano will be there – and restored and playable – will give the Gazans the possibility, as soon as life permits it, to have some kind of cultural activities… They need to hear really good music,” he says in an interview with the BBC.

With the work of French music technician Claire Bertrand and her assistants, the piano went back to life in 10 days. Its return was celebrated with a small concert in the wedding hall by pupils of Gaza’s only music school, a branch of Palestine’s Edward Said National Conservatory.

For more information: Visit Music Fund’s Facebook page.

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Valentina Primo

Journalist, globetrotter, and determined idealist. Since Valentina left her home country of Argentina, she has searched for ways to build bridges between cultures and foster dialogue. Her previous work in international organizations in Italy and Germany fed her passion for the world of development, while her 8-year journalistic experience in Argentina and Egypt increased her curiosity for everything that challenges the stereotype. She holds a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Peace Studies with a specialization in Human Rights.

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