’Ud to Palestine


“Then, of course, I was becoming a man,” said Palestinian musician Issa Boulos, recounting a teenage romance. “So I needed to start talking politics—because that’s what Palestinian men do.” The approach, said Boulos, director of the University’s Middle East Music Ensemble, failed to win over the young woman, but it did inspire a song, which he played at Thursday’s Noontime Concert Series in Fulton Recital Hall. Titled “Being Peace: A Palestinian Memoir,” the 45-minute program included five compositions by Boulos, all strummed on an ’ud (or “oud”), a pear-shaped traditional Middle Eastern stringed instrument. As he played, colorful abstract paintings and black-and-white photographs of Palestinian children flashed across a large projector screen.

Seated on the dimly lit stage, Boulos shared stories of his life in the Middle East, including two years in the mountains being “hunted by the Israelis”; his arrest; and time in prison. “How can you maintain peace in the absence of justice?” he asked the audience of 50 before launching into a melancholy melody. Boulos capped off the concert with a brief instrumental, joking it would help “calm you down—to calm myself actually.”


Photos: Issa Boulos plays the 'ud at Fulton Recital Hall (top); Photos and paintings flashed on the screen (bottom).

October 6, 2006