11th Century Rabbi Yehuda Moshe Ibn Ezra, celebrated poet of the Golden Age of Spain, may never have imagined sharing the stage with a rock band but that is what will take place next Thursday, November 12 at the Jerusalem Theater as “The Tractor’s Revenge” opens the 10th International Oud Festival with a tribute to the Jewish liturgical poetry (piyyutim) of Ibn Ezra. The festival, under the artistic direction of Effie Benaya, will be held in Jerusalem from November 12 – 26 and in Nazareth from November 24 – 27, and is organized by the Confederation House in Jerusalem.
Reflecting the aim of Confederation House to provide a meeting place for the diverse communities living side by side in Jerusalem, and a venue for the expression of their cultural heritage, the festival brings together ancient and contemporary musical influences, Eastern and Western styles and instruments, Arab, Jewish and Israeli musicians alongside guest artists from around the world. Director Benaya describes the festival as an “ongoing endeavor – a journey along the strings of the oud, stretched between different periods and cultures.”
The Tractor’s Revenge has long had a dialogue with Jewish literary heritage, performing one of Ibn Ezra’s piyyutim “El Nora Alilah” in the early 1990s. With their compelling rhythms and contemporary sound they have created their interpretations for traditional texts such as “Dror Yikra,” an electronic rendition of “Adon HaSelihot” and “Ehad Mi Yodea” for Ohad Naharin’s “Kir”, performed by the Batsheva Dance Company. A different approach is taken by singer/songwriter Eran Zur, who will be performing unknown piyyutim of Rabbi Israel Najara (1550 – 1625), renewed in arrangements that follow the specific instructions left by the poet in his writings.
Audiences will have an opportunity to hear Syrian traditional music in “A Tribute to Sabah Fakhri” performed by Mustafa Dakhla and the Tarshiha Orchestra for Arabic Music. Dakhla has performed alongside Fakhri, who is known as an artist who preserves Arabic tradition. The Tarshiha Orchestra will also accompany an evening honoring three
great Arab vocalists: Abd al-Wahab, Um Kalthoum and Farid al-Atrash. Performing their songs will be Ibrahim Azam and Violet Salameh. Azam, a native of Tarshiha, has lived in London for many years. Azam, who was a close friend of Abd al-Wahab, is considered one of the finest performers of his songs today. Salameh, a native of Haifa, is one of the greatest and most popular Arab vocalists, appearing regularly on stages in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Yemen and the US.
Composer Peretz Eliyahu will premiere a new work “Ad Adei Ad,” created for the festival, based upon texts from Sefer ha-Yetzira, a mystical text about the creation of the world. The texts relate to the importance of the number seven and the three elements: water, fire and wind. The work is in the maqam of rast, the main maqam in Eastern musical tradition thought to convey joy.
Another unique performance at the festival will be “Top Trio – A One-Time Encounter Between Three Oud Players.” Each of the three internationally known performers brings his own unique style. Taiseer Elias from Israel, winner of the Frank Peleg Prize for Achievement in 2009, is considered one of the most important oud players today. Ara Dinkjian, an Armenian citizen of the United States, is the founder of the Night Ark ensemble. For his solo section he plans to improvise Armenian folk melodies. Yurdal Tokcan from Turkey, states: “Music is a very strong link between people, but what is most important is that musical representatives of different nations and cultures reflect the light of art with love in their hearts to audiences of other nations.”
The International Oud Festival is supported by the European Union, the Beracha Foundation, the Israeli Ministry of Sports and Culture, the Jerusalem Municipality, Payis Committee for Culture and Art, The Jerusalem Foundation, the Israeli Foreign Ministry Branch of Culture and Science and the Karev Foundation.
Further details and tickets contact Confederation House: