By Rajaâ El Alami
By Rajaâ El Alami
Morocco World News
Washington, February 20, 2012
The Embassy of Tunisia, with the Tunisian Ministry of Culture, hosted a gala concert Monday evening January 9, 2012 at the Kennedy Center. The symphony, entitled “Hannibal Barca”, composed by Mr. Jaloul Ayed, ex-Finance Minister of Tunisia, made its first American performance in honor of the one-year anniversary of the Tunisian uprisings.
In 2010, a young Tunisian fruit vendor by the name of Mohammed Bouazzizi set in motion a wave of events that would come to be recognized as a great turning point in history. The “Jasmine Revolution”, which led to the Arab Spring, has been invariably one of the most important events to take place in recent history.
Lack of opportunity and repression under the 23-year rule of Ben Ali led this young man to immolate himself in the hope of having a voice. The implications of his actions for the course of human civilization may not yet be fully realized, but one cannot help to draw comparisons to another event stemming from the same country 23 centuries prior.
Hannibal Barca lived during a period of tremendous tension when the Roman Empire was exercising its supremacy over great powers, including Carthage. At the outbreak of the second Punic War, Hannibal marched an army, including elephants, from Carthage over the Pyrenees and Alps and into Northern Italy to defeat the Roman military and occupy the country for over 15 years.
In Hannibal Barca , the symphony pays homage to one of history’s greatest military figures and gives equal praise to the young fruit vendor who sacrificed his life for the hopes of a better future. Both have marked human history. Both come from the same country: Tunisia.
The piece is a fitting tribute to a country small in size but great for the momentous role it has played in the course of human civilization.
The Tunisian and the American anthems began the evening’s performance, followed by introductory remarks from Alicia Adams, the Vice President of International Programming at the Kennedy Center. Mrs. Adams shared Kennedy Center’s outlook on art and how its use can be a helpful tool in bringing people together.
Tunisian musicians flew in specifically for this event, in collaboration with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra. The concert was enthusiastically led by Conductor Jean-Charles Biondi and was approximately sixty minutes long.
It began with a soothing yet very moving overture to La Forza del Destino by Verdi. Immediately it was followed by Ayed’s Hannibal Barca, in which the music spoke the incredible saga of Hannibal, his mystical perseverance, the boldness of the challenges he encountered and the anguish of his mountain crossings. The performance of this piece commenced with the emotion of his victory; when a handful of Tunisian musicians walked on to the stage playing the bendhir (a traditional North African hand held drum) together with classical music that made the piece revolutionary in itself. It received endless claps and cheers from the audience.
Following the event, I had the opportunity to speak with H.E. Ambassador Mohamed Salah Tekaya, Ambassador of Tunisia to the US and hear his thoughts of the sold out event that was attended and supported by a diverse political and non-political audience. “This shows support and sympathy for the Tunisian people and also a demonstration of friendship between Tunisia and the United States. Those who attended, wanted to share with Tunisia this joyful and momentous evening in celebrating Tunisia’s one year anniversary,” stated the ambassador.
The World Leadership Forum event brought together new leaders of democratic Tunisia, leaders from throughout the Middle East and North Africa, American and multilateral officials, and business and finance leaders to celebrate in a historical gala evening a country which paved the way for the Arab Spring. It was also attended by Ann Stock who spoke on behalf of Secretary of State Hilary R. Clinton. Stock highlighted the strong support of the US, “We’re particularly committed to supporting Tunisia in its train to democracy.” “More than two centuries ago, Tunisia was one of the first nations to recognize a young democratic USA. Today, we are proud to return that favor!” she added.
*Hannibal Barca, the symphony was first performed on February 19th, 2009, in Casablanca by Morocco’s Philharmonic Orchestra to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Moroccan Bank of External Commerce (BMCE).
Edited by Benjamin Villanti
Rajaâ El Alami has over six years of combined project coordination, quality engineering, and extensive research experience working with Kaiser Permanente, Beckton Dickinson, Management Sciences for Health and has also worked jointly with MIT Students and professors for three years on FIRST (For inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition, while taking engineering classes at MIT and perusing a Bachelors in Electronic Engineering at Wentworth Institute of Technology.
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