Ancient music in the mitten

Posted at 1:05 AM, May 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-07 01:05:05-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The world premiere of what historians are calling the oldest music notation ever written was performed by the Forest Hills Central High School Orchestra with pianist and composer Malek Jandali.

"The archeologists determined this is the oldest music notation ever known to mankind," said Jandali.

The music of the ancients could be heard ringing through the Forest Hills Fine Arts Center Wednesday evening. The music was performed by the high school orchestra and accompanied by Jandali, a Syria native who now lives in New York City

The clay tablet with the first scribbles of music notation dates back to 1400 B.C. in Mesopotamia. It is currently titled "Echoes from Ugarit."

Forest Hills Central High School Orchestra director Andrew Pool said Jandali was contacted about performing the piece through his web site by the valedictorian senior Tasneem Sannah.

"And he answered, 'Yes, that is a great idea. Maybe I can play with your orchestra'," said Sannah. "I wanted to do something special for my senior solo, and since my family is from Syria and there's a war going on over there, I figured I could do something to honor them."

"We're pleased to present this music, because it has never been performed before," said Pool. "It has never been performed anywhere, so this will in fact be the world premiere."

The symphony is dedicated to the memory of Lucan Van Sprange, who was hit by a car and killed earlier this year.

"We are also remembering the Syrian children who are targeted by dictatorship," said Jandali.

Jandali said his music spreads a message of humanity and peace, a message the Forest Hills Central orchestra has accepted in recent months.

"It's a gift about music, hope, and harmony," said Pool. "It's about understanding different culture through the lens of music."