Composer Philip Munger honors the music of @docjazzmusic

Sunday, 25 November 2012 | Dr. Tariq Shadid |

On Saturday, November 24th, 2012, Philip Munger wrote a piece on his blog which, in his own words, aimed to honor the music of Doc Jazz. Coming from an accomplished college music educator and composer like Philip Munger, this is indeed a wonderful endorsement that is quite encouraging and is received by the Musical Intifada in thankfulness and solidarity.

Philip Munger has been living in Alaska since 1973, where he lectures on cultural history at the University of Alaska Anchorage. While he has been an extremely accomplished composer throughout his life, and recipient of several grants, prizes and honors, he has also had a wide variety of different occupations, including radio announcer/producer/director, commercial fisherman, policeman, fire chief and charter boat operator.

His musical compositions have been performed at the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Julliard Institute, Cornish Institute, Warsaw Conservatory and many other notable venues. He is perhaps best known for “The Skies are Weeping”, a seven-movement cantata written in tribute to Rachel Corrie, the American ISM-activist who was bulldozed to death by the Israeli army. In the second movement, this cantata also memorializes Tom Hurndall, the British ISM-activist who was shot in the head and died after nine months in coma.

“The Skies are Weeping” was supposed to have its world premiere at the University of Alaska Anchorage where Munger teaches, but due to fierce opposition and accusations of ‘anti-semitism’ from Zionists within the Jewish community, the performance was withdrawn.

The cantata eventually had its world premiere on November 1, 2005 in London at the Hackney Empire Theatre. It was performed by soprano Deborah Naomi Fink, pianist Dominic Saunders, the Coro Cervantes Choir and the London Percussion Ensemble directed by Peter Crockford. This concert had many prominent patrons including Ilan Pappe, Avi Shlaim and Harold Pinter, and many supporters among which the Corrie and Hurndall families, Afif Safieh, MP Jeremy Corbyn and representatives from several UK movements for Palestinian rights. Watch this Youtube video below, which features a recording of this moving cantata.

In the piece about Doc Jazz that Philip Munger posted on his blog, he states that the music of ‘self-taught musician’ Doc Jazz is ‘quite varied’ and that ‘his unique take on aspects of the Palestinian diaspora is gaining traction on the web’. In the rest of the article he takes several quotes from Doc Jazz, focusing his interest mainly on Doc Jazz’s views about the philosophical aspects of how music, art and activism can be combined. At the end of his piece, he shares two music videos: “Right of Return” and “Children of Gaza”.

Munger’s piece was published on his own blog, and on the Firedoglake website. It makes an interesting read that will definitely give you an insight into the musical struggle of Doc Jazz. Do follow Philip Munger on Twitter !

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