The Jerusalem International Oud Festival in Nazareth | Heba Zoabi
The Jerusalem International Oud Festival in Nazareth Print
Heba Zoabi   
The Jerusalem International Oud Festival in Nazareth | Heba ZoabiThe Confederation House is a cultural institution that promotes productions and enrichment programs involving ethnic music, world music, literature, poetry and Jewish thought .The festival is a music journey that crosses borders and musical cultures.

The opening of the Festival was with rock musician Barry Sacharoff that presented new melodies and original arrangements of the poetry of Solomon Ibn Gabirol.This performance, a world premier, is the result of Sacharoff’s in-depth exploration of the poetic and philosophical works of this Jewish intellectual of the Golden Age in Spain.

Modern Sofi Songs and Dance in the festival ,this staged work was inspired by Middle Eastern culture with touches of flamenco, modernism, Sufism, and free improvisation. Choreography and costuming are the work of Danielle Alter-Alnuma.

Tarshiha Orchestra of Arabic music performed musikar al-ajyal (Musician of the Ages) ,it was songs and instrumental works by Abd al-Wahab in original and innovative arrangements by the orchestra’s conductor, Mr. Taysir Haddad, with the participation of musicians, a choir, and soloists.The orchestra’s special guest is highly acclaimed vocalist Ibraham Azzam, a native of Tarshihah, who lived in London for many years. Azzam, who was a close friend of Abd al-Wahab, is regarded as one of the finest performers of Abd al-Wahab’s songs today.

The performance Maftirim a Music and hebrew songs from the Ottoman lands,these choral associations performed Hebrew monophonic sacred songs for Sabbath gatherings. This new program in the “ ‘Ud and Piyyut ” series produced by the Jewish Music Research Centre at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in collaboration with the website “Invitation to Piyyut” recreates the songs of the maftirim as performed in Istanbul in the 1920s and 1930s. The performance is devoted to the revival of the maftirim — confraternities of cantors, poets and composers that were active in synagogues in Ottoman Greece and Turkey from the 17th century on.

Bedouin Music in the festival by Muhammad Abu Ajaj and his ensemble that came from the Negev.Abu Ajaj is studying and collecting traditional Bedouin music, seeking to preserve, document and present this music to the public before it disappears. In the performance they are playing the traditional instruments and performing songs of all types, Abu Ajaj and his ensemble revitalize Bedouin music and make it accessible in Israel and abroad. The performance opens a window to the world of this unique musical tradition, unfamiliar to the Israeli public at large, as well as offering combinations of authentic Bedouin music and contemporary Israeli compositions.

The performance Peace on the Earth with the Armenian-American oud player Ara Dinkjian.The ensemble put together by Dinkjian for the Festival this year faithfully represents this utopia and comprises some of the finest musicians from Greece, Turkey and Israel — Christians, Muslims and Jews, who improvise together and play a selection of works by composers of the different faiths.

Um Kalthum sung by Dalal Abu Amna. Dalal, who was nurtured on the songs of Um Kalthum and particularly influenced by her Sufi songs, has been praised by some of the Arab world’s greatest musicians for her unique voice, which combines classical Arab nobility with the clarity of popular song in general and Palestinian song in particular. Despite her youth, she has already appeared on important stages throughout the Arab and Western world.

Yair Dalal and David Broza play together and separately, with hidden and tightly stretched threads linking the strings of the oud and those of the guitar, with songs of love and the desert, in Spanish, Hebrew and Iraqi Arabic.

Ihab Nimr oud player and violinist , In a performance based upon works in the album Awtar (mood in Arabic) it is his first album as a compposer , Nimr presents compositions written during years of musical research, love and experience: works based upon maqamat , written as expressions of the artist’s experiences.

The performance “Mystical Music of the Middle East” is a Sufi songs from the Turkish tradition, Palestinian folk songs, Armenian traditional hymns and songs from the Jewish-Arabic tradition of al-Andalus and Morocco: these are the raw materials for the innovative works of the Los Angeles-based Yuval Ron Ensemble, whose members seek to bring together the musical traditions and dance of different peoples of the Middle East and unite them into a mystical and inspired musical celebration.The members of the ensemble, Jewish, Arab and Armenian Christian artists — have performed at numerous festivals around the world. The ensemble’s soloist, Najwa Gibran, born in Haifa and educated at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, Canada, is considered to be one of the most talented Arab vocalists living in the West today. The group’s leader, composer and producer Yuval Ron, has worked with some of the finest musicians and choreographers, including Sufi artists Omar Faruk Tekbilek and Sukhawat Ali Khan, and has won various prizes for his work, including an Oscar for the film “West Bank Story.”

Joëlle Leandre, one of the leading bass players in the world, will be encounted in a performance with Sameer Makhoul one of the finest oud players. Joëlle Leandre is world renowned as an original virtuoso performer of a challenging repertoire composed for bass by groundbreaking 20th century composers such as John Cage and Morton Feldman. Following her meetings with them, and performances of works composed specially for her, she began to examine a variety of forms of free improvisation in order to broaden her musical idiom and the bass repertoire as a soloist and lead musician in a variety of musical ensembles performing everything from jazz to world music. In this musical dialogue with Sameer Makhoul, she explores the wealth of Middle Eastern modes, improvising on familiar and rare maqamat .

Sameer Makhoul presented in the festival in another performance with the percussionist Itamar Doari they performed Sama’a, it was musical dialogue between ancient and modern cultures, focusing upon the original work of Sameer from his album “Athar” and from his latest and soon-to-be-released album “Sama`a” together with new arrangements of Arabic classical works, Makhoul’s melodies string together traditional Arabic music, ancient poetry and classical Turkish and Andalusian music.

The festival will close with the performance Ladino Songs from Turkey by Janet and Jak Esim from Turkey — the greatest performers and re-discoverers of Ladino song today — will bring Ladino songs from the treasury of romances, vocals and instrumentals of the community of exiles from Spain. Ballads and songs of longing, sadness and love reflect a rich musical repertoire in which are heard echoes of the European Renaissance, alongside sounds from the musical traditions of the Mediterranean and Aegean, and even South America. The songs are presented in the polyphonic style of their sources and in an authentic spirit, through the vocals and instrumentals of the members of the Ensemble for Jewish-Spanish Music, which includes some of the finest musicians of contemporary Turkey.

Heba Zoabi
(17/11/2007)
player Ara Dinkjian


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