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- Published on Monday, 05 November 2012 06:52
- Category: Music Events
“Music is the sole border that we may all cross together with the passport of love in our hearts and peace in our souls.”
~ Naser Musa
There actually may be peace in the world if we had more people like Julia Gilden and Yair Dalal. Gilden, who currently works as a dance teacher at Temple Sinai in Oakland, Calfornia, has spent much of her life bringing people together through her love of modern dance, experimental theater and spoken word. Yair Dalal is a prolific Iraqi/Israeli composer, musician and peace activist whose compositions celebrate Iraqi and Jewish Arabic music.
When the war in Lebanon broke out in in 2006, Gilden wanted to do something to promote peace between Arabs and Israelis so she worked with her friend, Dalal, to organize a sold-out Middle East peace concert at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. Their mission was to communicate a message of brotherhood through music.
With this year’s heightened tensions between Iran and Israel over Iran’s nuclear program, Gilden and Dalal felt that the time was right for another peace concert to remind people of their common humanity. As Dalal explains,
“A few months ago, while the Iranian-Israeli political relationship was on edge of war, few Israeli and Iranian people posted on Facebook to each other—‘we love you, we'll never bomb you’... pretty soon there were many more Israeli and Iranian posting these human, loving messages to each other. As it got viral, I was inspired to create the concert tour with the help of Julia Gilden [with] Israeli, Palestinian and Iranian musicians so we can share the message, remind others that governments are not always for people and we have to all share and care for each other and the planet, to support creative, supportive, harmonious, peaceful and loving lives...”
Dalal decided to bring together some of the best performers in the world: Naser Musa, Jordanian-Palestinian composer, oud player and singer; Hamid Saeidi, Iranian composer, santoor player and singer; Dror Sinai, Israeli percussionist and singer, and Miriam Peretz, Israeli-American dancer. The quintet agreed to perform three peace concerts in the San Francisco/Bay Area in October 2012.
The first concert was held at the Taube Hillel House at the Ziff Center for Jewish Life on the Stanford University campus. One of the primary objectives of the Ziff Center is to promote inter-faith dialogue and social justice so it was the ideal venue to host a peace concert.
Upon entering the Hillel House, concert-goers were greeted with the quintessential expression of Middle Eastern hospitality—a large assortment of traditional Iranian, Arab and Jewish desserts. The performance area was beautifully Illuminated with the warm glow of henna lamps and adorned with Oriental carpets, silk tapestries and embroidered pillows—immediately transporting the audience of about 122 people to the far-away lands of the East.
To preface the performance, one of the organizers reminded the audience of the common roots between Jews, Muslims and Christians and the universality of music as a vehicle for peace.
The musicians performed ten songs. Dalal began the concert with a hauntingly melodic violin solo that conjured up images of camel caravans on the Silk Road. He sang several soulful measures of a song in Hebrew to the accompaniment of Nasr Musa on oud and Hamid Saedi on santoor, an ancient trapezoidal-shaped stringed instrument. Musa began singing in Arabic, followed by Hamid Saedi vocalizing in Farsi and the three men traded off singing in their respective languages.
Israeli percussionist Dror Sinai joined the three musicians on dardouka for the second song, which had a traditional Arabic rhythm, and featured short solos from Musa and Dalal on oud and a tantalizing santoor solo from Saedi.
Nasr Musa played an uplifting love song from the soundtrack to the IMAX® film, Arabia, which Musa wrote. The tune inspired about a dozen audience members of all ages to get up from their seats and dance.
Concert-goers were enchanted by the beautiful Miriam Peretz, who performed three breath-taking dance solos during the show. Adorned in a richly ornamental red and gold costume, Peretz’s first performance was a traditional Persian dance, accompanied by Saedi singing in Farsi and playing the santoor. For the second piece, Perez entered the stage to the beat of the frame drum in an all-white garment to perform the sema, the sacred whirling dance of the dervishes inspired by the Sufi mystic, Mevlana Rumi. As Peretz danced, the four musicians recited, “Allah,” a devotional act known as zhikr, (meaning “remembrance of God”). For Peretz’s final piece, she wore a blue, diaphanous costume and danced with a long, silk veil to an old Hebrew song.
Halfway through the concert, two Stanford students marked the 18th anniversary of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordon, which was signed on October 29, 1994, by reading excerpts from the speeches by the two leaders who helped negotiate it: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein of Jordon.
Throughout the evening the performers seamlessly weaved together the musical traditions of Iraq, Palestine, Israel and Iran, creating a intricate tapestry of beautiful sounds and heart-felt emotions that the audience will long remember.
The tradition of breading bread has historically been an act of peace in many cultures. As a final gesture of solidarity to end the concert, freshly-baked loaves of challah, the traditional Jewish bread eaten on the Sabbath, were shared with the audience.
Perhaps the words of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the 20th century Kabbalist, sum up the evening best:
“There is one who ascends with all these songs in unison — the song of the soul, the song of the nation, the song of humanity, the song of the cosmos — resounding together, blending in harmony, circulating the sap of life, the sound of holy joy.”
About the Performers
Yair Dalal is an internationally-respected Israeli-Iraqi composer, violinist, oud player, singer and music educator who was born in Israel in 1955 to Iraqi parents. Dalal studied violin at the Givatayim Conservatory, outside of Tel Aviv, and then began learning the oud in his twenties. His compositions are deeply rooted in traditional Iraqi and Jewish Arabic music, but are also influenced by European classical, Indian and other with musical styles from all corners of the globe. Dalal has completed 11 albums, collaborating with some of the most respected musicians and composers in the world. In 2000, Dalal was nominated for a Grammy Award as part of Jordi Savall’s musical ensemble. In addition to Dalal’s impressive musical resume, he has also worked as an ardent peace activist. In 1994, Dalal had the honor of performing at the Nobel Peace Prize gala concert for Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat. For more information about Yair Dalal, visit his website: http://www.yairdalal.com
Nasr Musa is a talented oud virtuoso, singer, songwriter, composer studio musician and peace activist. Musa, who is a Jordanian of Palestinian descent, began playing the oud as a small child while living in Amman. In 1982, Musa moved to the California, where he continued his musical education at California Polytechnic University. Musa has performed all over the world and has composed, arranged, and recorded a number of musical projects in the US and the Middle East. His music has been featured in movie soundtracks (“Arabia,” “The Passion of the Christ”) and he has also recorded with pop stars such as Shakira and Beyonce. For more information about Nasr Musa, visit his website: http://www.nasermusa.net
Hamid Saeidi, the award-winning Iranian composer, singer and santoor player, began training in the Radiff system of Persian Classical music at age 15. Saeidi studied santoor with master Madjid Kiani and later earned his degree in music from the Iranian Academy of the Arts. Saeidi has performed all over the world and has composed musical scores for more than 30 films, television programs, dance and theatrical productions. For more information about Saeidi, visit his website: http://hamidsaeidi.com
Dror Sinai is a talented Israeli percussionist, vocalist, teacher and peace advocate. He founded RHYTHM FUSION, a musical instrument supplier, and was a founding member of the World Music Committee for the Percussive Arts Society. Dror has taught percussion to both professionals and amateurs and to people of all ages, using this music to promote peace. Dror has performed all over the world, including at the prestigious Sacred Music Festival in Fez, Morocco. He has played as a solo percussionist and as a member of an ensemble with world-renowned musicians such as Omar Faruk Tekbilek and Alessandra Belloni. For more information about Dror Sinai, visit his website: http://drorsinai.com
Miriam Peretz is an internationally recognized dancer and instructor who specializes in the traditional dances from the Silk Road and Middle East as well as various sacred dance forms. Miriam has also been a principal dancer, choreographer and lead instructor with Ballet Afsaneh for over ten years. She has danced as a soloist in festivals across the US and Europe, including the prestigious San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. Peretz has also performed with numerous respected musicians, including Amir Shahsar, Pezhham Akhavass and Habib Qaderi. For more information about Miriam Peretz, visit her website: http://www.miriamdance.comBy Farah Bullara, Aslan Media Contributing Arts Writer