Celebrated Palestinian singer, Milad Fatouleh, whose classical training in Italy informs his performance of Arabic music, opens the festival with a song. Performing in front of the Nativity Church in the hearts of Bethlehem, venerated for centuries as the birthplace of Christ, Milad recorded this song especially for the Festival during the Covid lockdown in Palestine in May.
Born in Bethlehem, Milad Fatouleh displayed his singing talent from a very early age. When he was 9, Milad was selected to represent Palestine in an international singing competition called Zecchino D’Oro, where he won first place. After a singular encounter which introduced the young Palestinian musician to Italian culture, a life-changing opportunity arose for Fatouleh and his family. “The purpose of this visit was to know more about Italy and its culture and traditions, but it was the first step of thinking to move to live there”.
Fatouleh decided to escape the political struggles in Bethlehem and, in a quest for a better life together with his whole family, moved to Italy at the end of 2006. When he arrived in Italy, Fatouleh was only 11 years old and accustomed to singing in Arabic, therefore his cultural and musical perspectives quickly changed. He learned to speak Italian and soon after felt connected enough with the language that a desire to express his musicality in a foreign language naturally followed. “I wrote many songs in Italian and composed them with my teacher. After I graduated from school, I decided to study music and I got a Master’s degree.”
After a congenial cycle living abroad, Fatouleh went back to his homeland Palestine and returned to his musical roots, subsequently immersing himself in Arabic culture. Unfortunately, life as a musician in Palestine encompasses many challenges in order to turn one’s musical dream into a feasible reality. “In Palestine, we lack the capabilities to support all musical talents. I wish my music would reach the whole world so they hear the Palestinian voice.”