It’s easy to see why Madras is the world’s top music school.
Located in the heart of Jerusalem’s old city, the music academy is packed with over a thousand students, most of whom are in their late teens and early 20s.
“There are many artists who are very young,” says music professor Shlomo D’Auria.
“They come to our school to learn music, and they are happy to see us.
I’ve always said Madras has a really strong music scene, and I believe it.”
D’Aura, whose teaching focuses on the art and history of Madrassas, is currently working on a book about the school called Madras Music: An Inside Look at the World’s First Music Academy.
His book is due out in the autumn, and he hopes it will attract an audience of both music fans and non-music-loving Jews.
“Madras has always been a bastion for Jews.
In our school, there is a Jewish presence in every corner of the building, from the classrooms to the cafeteria, and that has always made it even more welcoming to those who have no connection to the Jewish community,” he explains.
“I want people to come to Madras to see for themselves what it is like to be Jewish in the Middle East.”‘
We are here to support our community’Despite the fact that most Madras students are students from the neighbouring town of Ashdod, the school’s ethos is that Madras was born to be a place where everyone is welcomed.
“We’re here to help our community, and we want to be here to continue to support the Palestinian cause,” says D’Aburia.
“Our mission is to bring music to people in need.
And we are here for that very reason.”
While many students from Ashdaw are from the West Bank and Gaza, the university’s students are mostly students from Israel and the Palestinian territories.
“Madras is unique in the world, but in our heart we are Israelis and Palestinians, because we are both here,” says Prof. Shlomo D’Alma, one of the school staff.
“If we can help Palestinians to learn to sing and play music, that’s what we want.”
In addition to offering its students a range of classical and jazz music, Madras also organises concerts, lectures and workshops to help Palestinians who are struggling to survive and to raise their families in Israel and Palestine.
“We’re very proud to have a Jewish student in our program,” says director of music and opera Nadine Zielin, “because we feel that every Palestinian child has the right to know and understand music and the music of our country.”
While the university aims to support Palestinian students in the academic sphere, it also helps them develop their skills in other areas.
“In the music department, we offer free tutoring, music lessons and performance workshops,” says Shlominga Likass, director of the music departments.
“And there are a number of programmes that help Palestinians with their daily life, such as helping people get through the winter.”
“In the past, we’ve been asked to take care of some of the Palestinian youth, but they come to us because we can support them,” says Likas, who has also been working on an educational program about the history of Palestine and the Nakba, a wave of ethnic cleansing that took place in 1948, during the Israeli occupation of the territory.
“It’s been very interesting for us to see what’s happening in Palestine today.
So, we’re happy to support them.””
There are a lot of Palestinian artists and musicians that have a lot to contribute to the world and that’s why we feel the need to create a platform for them,” adds Prof. D’Amel, who was born in the occupied territories.”
But the more important thing is that we are proud to be Palestinian, and to support this Palestinian cause.”
To celebrate the university and its students’ contributions to the Palestinian people, the Madras school also holds an annual music festival, the International Day of Music.
The festival is run by the Palestinian Palestinian Music Association (PMMA), which is led by the renowned pianist Makhoul.
The PMMA also runs the Jerusalem Music Festival, which attracts over 200,000 visitors every year, many of whom come from the Israeli and Palestinian territories, as well as other countries.
“For a lot, Madres music festival is a way to celebrate the fact Madras and its community are here and the fact we’re Palestinian,” says PMMA director Eman Shashoura.
“People from different parts of the world come to the festival and we encourage them to sing, dance and to be active in the music scene.”
Madras also has its own art gallery, where students paint and draw on walls and create artwork, which is a part of