Press release

Come together, right now, over a livestream: The power of music during a pandemic

UNESCO International Jazz Day 2020 in Palestine

Established by the General Conference of UNESCO in 2011, the annual International Jazz Day taking place every April 30th brings together countries and communities worldwide to celebrate jazz and highlight the music’s important role in encouraging dialogue, combating discrimination and promoting human dignity.Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s 9th International Jazz Day celebrations transitioned to a virtual format worldwide as well as in Palestine.

The UNESCO National Office for Palestine in Ramallah in partnership with the Willy Brandt Center in Jerusalem participated once gain in the 2020 edition thereby contributing to this  global initiative through  music events promoting Palestinian musicians as well international artists who participated in former editions of the International Jazz Day in Bethlehem, Gaza, Jericho, Jerusalem and Ramallah.

UNESCO and its partners were  proud to present online music video premieres of the Palestinian Sol Band, Swiss-Finnish singer Heidi Caviezel, Mohammad Qutati from Ramallah and Lukas Schiemer from Austria who all composed, performed and recorded special contributions for this occasion.

The highlight of the Palestinian Jazz Day celebration was a concert which was live streamed from Gaza through Facebook. The musicians Mohammad Zohod, Mohammad Albalawi, Hossam Hassona and Lyad Abu Laila, all members of the popular Typo band from Gaza, came together in a studio to play for a large online audience. Their performance was followed by a musical contribution of Mohammad Shoman, a member of the also Gaza based Sol Band, who performed with his sister, singer Ghada Shoman.

In his opening address, Typo band lead singer Mohammad Zohod stated that this year due to the COVID-19 crisis “the band will play online instead of facing audiences but we are sure that you will all enjoy the music and the songs.”  The high number of enthusiastic comments during and after the live-concert showed the great interest and wide participation of a vast audience. The streaming was followed and shared online by several institutions and individual music fans of the local and international community.

The international celebrations included also an online jazz workshop organised by the Herbie Hancock Institute in Washington. The session took place in Arabic featuring Tarek Yamani, a New York-based, Lebanese-American award winning composer and a jazz pianist.

UNESCO and its partners would like to thank the Herbie Hancock Institute for their continuous support and inspiration, and express our profound gratitude to all artists participating in this year’s online events. We are already looking forward to the moment when we will be able to celebrate again the International Jazz Day in Palestine together with our dear audience as well as with many artists from near and far.

Until then let us keep making music and remember the words of Herbie Hancock, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and Co-Chair of the International Jazz Day, who said, “Now more than ever before, let’s band together and spread the ethics of Jazz Day’s global movement around the planet and use this as a golden opportunity for humankind to reconnect, especially in the midst of all this isolation and uncertainty.”

For more information on UNESCO’s activities in Palestine, please visit us on Facebook UNESCO National Office for Palestine


*This activity is organized within the framework of UNESCO’s 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.