Lebanese musician Marcel Khalife on music, migration, humanity

Published 12.10.2017 02:01
Updated 12.10.2017 02:02
Lebanese musician Marcel Khalife on music, migration, humanity

Having had to endure many difficulties due to his well-known loyalty to the Palestinian cause, Lebanese musician Marcel Khalife performed in Istanbul in a recent event and spoke of his view of music, peace and politics

Famous Lebanese composer, singer and oud player Marcel Khalife, 67, performed at the Eastern Youth Annual Conference 2017 in Istanbul last Sunday.

Known for his loyalty to the Palestinian cause, Khalife spoke to Anadolu Agency (AA) after the concert.

"Music is above all administrations and dominations, and it is free. I had to abandon the place where I used to live since I believe in a human cause. The Arabic world has a painful reality."

Explaining that the civil war in Lebanon has shaped his artistic personality, Khalife said that his childhood experience has had a significant influence on his choice of music.

Citing the importance of the notion of migration, Khalife said: "My new album 'Migration' will be releas

ed early next year. It is about all the migrants in the Arab world," clarifying that the notion did not only involve the Palestinians.

"It is about all Arab migrants who had to leave everything behind."

"I had to migrate because of my loyalty to the Palestinian cause. They took away my very first oud, which my father bought me. I used it to learn how to compose," Khalife said.

'I make music for humanity'

The Lebanese artist said his music as human-oriented rather than heroic: "I focus on the human feelings that affect people deeply such as my longing for a Lebanese passport, Middle Eastern tunes and my mother's bread.

"I make music that relaxes people and eases their pain. These works help them with their demands for political, social and humanitarian rights. I worked on a piece by Mahmoud Darwish nearly a year ago. People think that this work, which I named 'Andalusia of Love,' is a love song. My songs have abstract meanings, although they may be perceived differently because of their names.

"In this difficult and fragile period of great or small wars and dead bodies, everyone can become accomplished in literature, art, poetry and music."

Politicizing of art

Khalife said that he was against the politicizing of art in line with the demands of some dominant governments in the Arab world.

"Music is above all governments and domination. It is free. I had to leave my place because of my political inclination and my belief in a human cause. It was during a struggle between the Palestinian cause and Lebanon's powerful ethnic politics. The Arab world has a painful reality."

Talking about the ideas and language of his music he said: "I write my songs and present simple public ideas. Artists are against all kind of domination. If not, it means there are dictatorship and pressure. No one has the right to force someone else to do something."

Eastern Symphony

Commenting on the Eastern Symphony in Istanbul, Khalife said: "It is a distinguished work in terms of its musical and spiritual content. The Eastern Symphony provides communication between today's youth and the older generations. I wrote it before the Arab Spring. It includes a call for everyone who wants freedom in the Arab world. The revolution didn't start five years ago it was a long time in the making."

He acknowledged that Turkish music has a rich heritage and is closely related to Arabian music.

"I think the language difference won't be a big problem like it would be in any other country, since Turkish people make music through feeling."

The Lebanese singer performed at Lütfi Kırdar Congress and Exhibition Center last Sunday. The event was supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA), Integral Media and Al-Jazeera Media Group.

The musician's allegiance to the Palestinian cause dates back to the years of the Lebanese Civil War of 1975 to 1990. His life and experiences in Lebanon's Baalbek province influenced his rise as a prominent musician in the Middle East. Known for his compositions using Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish's work, Khalife has breathed new life into Arabic poetry.

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