World Music at the Israeli Opera

Vieux Farka Touré

The Israeli Opera will be moving to new rhythms with Idan Raichel as music consultant for their new program: World Music at the Opera. The opening concert will be Vieux Farka Touré from Mali on Friday, November 26 at 22:00, at the Israeli Opera/Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center.

The coming season will also include: Concha Buika, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Richard Bona.

Opera Director Hannah Munitz introduced the program in a press meeting this week, saying, “Art has no boundaries.” As for the choice of Raichel as musical consultant, she said, “Idan is the ultimate artist, respected internationally as well as in Israel, always searching for invigorating and new musical languages.”

Raichel feels very much at home at the Israeli Opera. He recalled attending “the world music program ten years ago led by Dubi Lenz, that was my first introduction to world music.” For Raichel, the current program closes some circles and opens new ones: “the albums I grew up on – Ladysmith, which led to the Graceland album – it’s exciting to bring them here, to the most respected stage in Israel.”

According to Raichel, world music is “music that comes from somewhere else. Shlomo Artzi in Mali would be world music… If Shlomo Artzi or Yoni Bloch perform in Mali, for them it is the same: music from Israel. When Vieux plays here, we don’t know if he is the Shlomo Artzi or Yoni Bloch of Mali. In selecting the musicians for the program it was important to us to invite performers who bring their roots.”

Beginning with Vieux Farka Touré in November, each of the performers will bring their personal sound to the Israeli stage. Says Raichel, “Vieux Farka Toure comes from a village in Mali, where despite the daily struggle for survival they created a music scene with international impact. They bring the technique of the kora – an ancient harp – which makes their sound so interesting. Buika sings, she wails – she’s 100% emotion. Ladysmith Black Mambazo will bring their powerful singing, just as it is, authentic. Richard Bona, like the best bassists, is very melodic…he is versatile, changing from album to album.”

Raichel feels that “The Israeli audience is open [to new musical influences] it’s a slow process. Maybe it began with Shoshana Damari recording in Yiddish, Ofra Haza, Achinoam Nini, Shotei HaNevuah, Mosh Ben Ari – bringing sounds from the world into their music.”

Raichel expressed the hope that these musical encounters will lead to an expanded program, perhaps even something along the lines of Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD saying, “I would be interested in hearing Yasmin Levy with Buika… I hope that it will become a movement that these artists will collaborate with Israeli musicians and feel at home here. This is just the beginning.”

The ever-adventurous Raichel has already begun something new – a chance meeting with Vieux Farka Touré in an airport in Germany led to the writing and recording of a new single “Say God,” which will be performed at the November 26th concert. Enjoy “Say God” here:

Israeli Opera/Tel Aviv Center for Performing Arts
19 Shaul Hamelech Street, Tel Aviv


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