This festival, to welcome refugees, included activities for children, information, and refreshments. There was also a concert in the top room, ably presented by MC Ibrahim, from Palestine. It began with the robust acapella singing of Women Asylum Seekers Together: beautiful harmonies combined with energy. Their programme included songs of resistance like “Asikatali” and “We want Rosa to stay”. The song “We will be all right”, started out to the tune of “We shall overcome”, and included a line, ”We want Yarl’s Wood to close”, then moved to a livelier tune. They got the audience clapping along and even dancing.
Two Syrian singers followed. Enas Aljabi gave us her melodious and heartfelt version of “Let it Go”. Moheddim Aljabi sang first in (I assume) Arabic and then in English, with his powerful expressive voice. The English version asked whether someone has to go to war to be a man, and why people don’t help others who are in trouble.
Antony Brannick took to the piano for the not undemanding task of presenting a brief history of European classical music: from Bach via Beethoven to Bartok. It included Handel’s “Harmonious Blacksmith” and a relevant and thoughtful piece by Grieg, “Homesickness”. He brought out the personality of each composer.
Children from the singing workshop downstairs showed they had put the time to good use in two songs, both about food – one with actions about fruit and veg, with which the audience joined in, and another in praise of chocolate.
To conclude the concert, Dr Suhad read her own poem, “My beautiful peaceful morning”, which took the familiar peace symbols of an olive tree and a dove, and presented them as living beings, showing the effects of war and peace.
Probably your next opportunity to hear any of these artists will be the next Antony and Friends concert, same venue, 7.30 pm, 23 September.