Jerusalem International Oud Festival 2020

Ehud Banai, George Samaan, Salem Darwish/Photo: Revital Topyol

The Jerusalem International Oud Festival will take place from November 19 – 28, 2020. The festival will be broadcast online, viewing is free and will be available on the Confederation House YouTube channel and facebook page. This year’s festival will focus on Israel artists, with an exciting lineup of musicians who have performed in the Oud Festival over the years. Opening the festival will be Ehud Banai with Geoge Samaan and Salem Darwish, musicians who have collaborated artistically for over thirty years. They will be hosting Luna Abu Nassar, a wonderful singer-songwriter who has released two studio albums.  The evening’s program will include songs in Hebrew and Arabic, the songs and stories of the Galilean village of Rameh, as well as the sounds of Banai’s childhood in Mahne Yehuda in Jerusalem.

Luna Abu Nassar/Photo by Yoav Pichersky

Although the pandemic does not make it possible to host international guests as in the past, the festival will continue to present the broad and diverse spectrum of international musical cultural traditions. Festival Artistic Director and Confederation House Director Effie Benaya affirmed that despite the necessary changes, the festival continues in its role as the foremost stage in Israel for artistic, Classical Arabic Music, presenting the fascinating connections between Arabic and Jewish music in Israel and neighboring countries. The opening and closing performances of the festival, as well as the tribute to Um Kalthoum and her sisters, will take place at the Jerusalem Theatre, with additional performances taking place at the Confederation House, all in accordance with health guidelines. Should it not be possible to hold the performances before an audience, they will be filmed and broadcast live on the Confederation House facebook page and YouTube Channel.

Festival highlights include:

Singer-songwriter Mor Karbasi will embark on a musical journey through Israel, Spain, Morocco, and the Atlas Mountains. The performance will take place on Saturday, November 21st at the Confederation House.

Singer and paytanit Hadass Pal-Yarden will reveal a musical treasure discovered about a decade ago in the EMI archive in London – Ladino songs recorded in Saloniki and Sarajevo before the first World War, performed by leading Sephardic Jewish singers of that time. These recordings were purchased by the Jewish Music Research Centre at the Hebrew University and Pal-Yarden will perform the songs in new arrangements. The performance, produced by the Jewish Music Research Centre, will take place on Sunday, November 22nd at the Confederation House.

Wisam Gibran/Photo: Yaman Gibran

Composer and oud player Wisam Gibran will perform a solo oud recital, in an evening titled “Eighth Heaven.” Gibran will play original compositions in addition to well-known and lesser-known works for the oud from different countries. The performance will take place on Sunday, November 22nd at the Confederation House.

Neta Elkayam and Amit Hai Cohen will perform in an evening commissioned for the festival, with songs relating to immigrants and immigration. The texts include poems of contemporary Israeli poets translated to Moroccan and set to music, as well as Piyyutim of longing for the Holy Land, composed in Maghreb, and songs of protest composed in the Maabarot (immigrant and refugee absorption camps established in Israel in the 1950s).

Internationally renowned oud player Professor Taiseer Elias and his orchestra will perform a tribute concert to Um Kalthoum and her musical sisters – Leila Mourad, Asmahan, Warda Al-Jazairia, Huda Sultan, Nagat Al-Saghira, and Fayza Ahmed – leading singers of Arabic music in the 20th century. All were much admired singers who changed the face of artistic Arabic music, each in her own way leaving her imprint on it and becoming a legend in her own time. The performance will take place on Thursday, November 26th at the Jerusalem Theatre.

Omri Mor/Photo: Yossi Zwecker

Closing the festival will be the singer and composer Shlomo Bar, pianist Omri Mor and singer and saxophonist Abate Berihun in a new performance, as they continue their journey into the music of North Africa, Ethiopia, and jazz. The performance will take place on Saturday, November 28th at the Jerusalem Theatre.

Links: Confederation House websiteYouTube channel, facebook page.