FORWARD TO LONDON
Berakah -- Muslim-Jewish-Christian ensemble
Saturday, February 18th, 2006 -- 7:00 p.m.
St. Annes & St. Andrews Church
125 Salusbury Road, London NW6 6RG
Musician Mohammed "Mo" Nazam ( Mo@nazam8.freeserve.co.uk ), with deep roots in Islam, told us that his "deepest motivation is to help our species to re-discover their common humanity."
"I'm committed to spreading peace and compassion amongst all peoples," he wrote in March, 2004, when he dreamed of an artistic contribution.
Mo turned talk and dreams into reality.
He united Muslim, Jewish and Christian musicians into one inspiring
July 2005 they first appeared in
The Berakah Project is described in words and photos at http://theberakahproject.org/ .
In May, 2005, he prepared by joining The Bridge Projects -- http://www.bridgeprojects.com/ -- for experience in the
The Bridge Projects' mission is to build bridges between Israelis and Palestinians through the arts, media and creative projects.
They was to illustrate the tangible benefits of co-operation, communication and understanding between the two communities.
Mohammed e-mailed: "We held music workshops in Ramallah,Tulkarem and Tel Aviv.
"The workshops were a huge success and we found that there really is a desire amongst the young people to meet and have open dialogue.
"Our next visit to
says that Berakh wants to make good music and to draw
audiences from the three faiths so that Jews, Muslims and Christians can sit
with each other and enjoy a cultural event and maybe even strike up a
"Who knows what could happen then?
"Some of them might realise that the images they had of the other may have been slightly ill-advised and might actually start talking to each other!
"Berakah" means a gift, special blessing or prayer, derived from both Arabic and Hebrew.
What a blessing is Berakah -- cooperating women and men who offer music with its quality of making people want to connect.
Create music and connect where you live.
Follow this leader.
Published by PeaceNowUK --
On the Web at http://www.peacenow-uk.org/htdocs/contents/reviews.htm
The Berakah Project
by Arie Natelson
In a post-9/11 world increasingly fraught with political tensions, where even
The Berakah Project, described as an interfaith music initiative dedicated to peaceful co-existence is so much more than an ensemble of hand-picked talented musicians from Christian, Muslim and Jewish heritage.
The brainchild of the bands charismatic frontman, guitarist and composer, Mohammed Mo Nazam, the group first featured as a headline act at the Brent Respect Festival last summer. This event, launched Berakah onto the interfaith map.
The aim, as Mo explains on on the Berakah website, apart from making good music, is to draw audiences from the three faiths so that Jews, Muslims and Christians can sit with each other and enjoy a cultural event and maybe even strike up a conversation. Who knows what could happen then? Some of them might realise that the images they had of the other may have been slightly ill-advised and might actually start talking to each other!
The emphasis of the band a an interfaith project, as opposed to the more commonplace inter-ethnic groups, is important. In intra-communal faith-based relations, a new frontier of questions, attitudes and challenges [were] opening up, with the advent of Islamophobia and continuing anti-Semitic attacks all against a backdrop of a nominally Christian society.
Music has always had a consciousness-broadening" capability so I figured that the way that I could make some kind of positive contribution to the issue was to form a band where we all come from the three monotheistic sister religions.
Delving into a rich tapestry of musical traditions, the result has been a tour-de-force of simmering, shimmering and soul-searching performances, gratefully received by audiences drawn from all backgrounds of the local community.
But this is no grandiose event with be-suited dignitaries to hand, like chintz baubles dripping off an Argos Christmas tree.
The informality and insouciance of Berakahs stage presence is a welcome tonic to glitzy event consciousness-raising events that held in the presence of philanthropic high-society figures.
From the off, the haunting ambient synths of Mark Hinton Stewarts keyboards, and dreamy, delicate forays of Mo Nazams electric guitar set an agenda of sensitive and thoughtful music. Space reigns supreme here, but also in an extraterrestrial sense: the first composition is entitled Cydonia, which Mo informs us is a region discovered on Mars by the Viking NASA probe in 1976. It was thought by certain folk of a more creative disposition, to have pyramids similar to that of Ancient Egypt, existing in a biblically-prophesied parallel civilisation!
The tantalising rhythms of percussionist Abdelkader Saadoun, are reminiscent of the Rai tradition of his native
Oriental melodies, often played in unison between guitar and violin, form the themes of these mostly original works. The synergy between all of the performers is evident, as they allow each layer of ideas to unfold as naturally as petals on a blooming crocus.
There is an interesting variety of musical timbres and styles. With never an identical line up each time and every piece retains a sense of novelty and freshness. From the intimate duet of the traditional Jewish Yedid Nefesh, with nuances of jazz guitar and heart-rending violin; and a pulsating North African-influenced trio of guitar, mandola and violin: to the rousing, complete band performance of Otis Reddings People Get Ready with the powerful and soulful vocals of Chantelle Duncan. All complement each other like wisps of fragrance adorning a perfume makers hand.
Mo introduces one of his compositions, a meandering, flowing instrumental of Spanish guitar, piano and bass. This one is called All Rivers Lead to the Sea sums it all up for me. However, there is no enforced political or cultural ideal here, or some hackneyed love of all man sentiment. Harmony as a mere concept of being, in addition to its musical connotation, reigns naturally.
Another piece is entitled Jihad, referring to its primary Quranic meaning, of the internal human struggle to follow a pious or spiritual path in life. Mo had written it a few years ago, partly to make a distinction from its more commonly perceived definition of holy war.
Between songs he comments, the fact that it has been possible to play music based on Islamic and Jewish themes in a church, really says a lot.
The show ends in true Berakah style - a finale rendition of U2s I Still Havent Found What Im Looking For with the soothing voice of Chantelle Duncan floating high above gentle arpeggiate notes of piano and guitar. It evokes memories of lying on a grassy knoll in
This encapsulates for me the meaning of Berakah grace or blessing in Arabic and blessing in Hebrew. Its message is beautiful yet powerful and all-embracing.
Should the position of official minstrels to the United Nations ever be created, I would say that the vacancy has already been filled.
More about Berakah and forthcoming performances is at band's Web site: http://theberakahproject.org