‘Home’ From Home

By: Qinglan Du

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This pandemic has done nothing but drive us apart, right? We’ve been confined to our houses and isolated from society. But it’s during these times of separation that a universal force truly brings us together: music.

‘Home’ From Home is a project initiated by the Jerusalem Youth Chorus in mid-March. That was when the coronavirus outbreak began in Israel-Palestine.

The Jerusalem Youth Chorus is a program for peace based in the heart of the holy land. It was founded by Yale graduate Micah Hendler back in 2012 and has been thriving ever since. The program welcomes Israeli and Palestinian singers to unite in music and dialogue.

Seeing that the pandemic has affected their weekly rehearsals, the chorus decided to take their anthem — Home by Phillip Phillips — and open it to the world. Originally intended as a regular video of chorus members singing at home, it took a turn for the better as they invited their global family to participate.

The Israeli and Palestinian high-schoolers from the program reached out to their friends and families, ultimately attracting a massive group to contribute their voices.

Celebrities who were previously involved with the chorus also joined in. David Broza, notable Israeli singer-songwriter, Youtube superstars Sam Tsui and Casey Breves, and 2009 Eurovision contestant Mira Awad were all famous faces in the final ‘Home’ From Home video.

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‘Home’ From Home featuring Jerusalem Youth Chorus members (left, Mohammed & Liad) and Youtube superstars (right, Sam Tsui & Casey Breves)

“I think this chorus did such a great job of creating a home together,” said Israeli singer-songwriter Achinoam Nini.

These teenagers, without a doubt, created a virtual home, not only for one another, but for all those they welcomed into the project. They recognised that many were struggling with the coronavirus crisis, whether it’s combatting racism, stress, or even the disease itself. With that thought in mind, they sought to ease the situation in the best way they could.

The concept of home is the simplest yet most complex. Jerusalem is one of those places where many people groups feel attached to as their home. The Jewish and Arabic teens in this project were able to set aside their differences and focus on spreading love during the world’s darkest hour.

At the beginning of the video, the chorus members each shared where home was for them. Some of them were neighbourhoods apart, others cities apart. Yet the funny thing about this pandemic is that suddenly, distance doesn’t matter anymore; everyone’s equally close and equally far.

As 17-year-old Palestinian chorus member, Spiro Boursheh, stated: “Coronavirus doesn’t mean that I can’t sing!”

On top of all the joy and positivity these teenagers radiated, the musical aspect of this project is an utter masterpiece too. The song’s chorus is sung in three-part harmonies with countless additional ornamentation tracks.

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‘Home’ From Home featuring Jerusalem Youth Chorus members and Israeli musicians (top, Mira Awad, Achinoam Nini, David Broza)

Other than the vocalists, there’s an abundance of instrumentalists sharing their talents too. There’s saxophonists, banjoists, violinists, and flutists just to name a few. They bring a little bit of everything to the video, giving every listener a touch of home that they can take away.

“Music is one of the most important things you can do. Keep doing it in whatever way possible,” said Yaara Mokady, an Israeli chorus alumni member, in the behind-the-scenes video. “Keep sharing and loving and caring about everyone around you.”

Following the ‘Home’ From Home video’s release on May 10, the views have skyrocketed on both Youtube and Facebook. Audience members from around the world have expressed how touched they were by the teenagers’ smiling faces and beautiful voices.

These youths have proven that quarantine isn’t a barrier, it’s a portal. The Jerusalem Youth Chorus has shown the world that the coronavirus isn’t breaking us down, it’s building us up. These musicians have taught us that we’re not “stuck” at home, we’re learning the importance of a home.

Check out the link to the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJaPUF3lHYg

Written by

Qinglan is a tenth-grade student at Beijing City International School and a journalist with the World Teenage Reporting Project on COVID-19.

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