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Festival is oud of this worldby josh • November 18 2008
Music, Things to do
The annual International Oud Festival kicks off this year on November 20 with a tribute to the golden age of the oud, and from there staggers nightly performances in venues through the city during its two-week run. Highlights include a musical exploration of the link between kabballa and Sufi Islam; Turkish giants of the oud Erkan OÄŸur and Ismail DemircioÄŸlu; and the world premier of a performance by ethnomusicologist Maureen Nehedar, who will sing traditional Persian Jewish ballads from the oldest Jewish Diaspora community in the world.
Perhaps the most famous of Middle Eastern instruments, the oud, is that lute-like piece that resembles an overweight guitar with a broken neck. Plucked from Sicily to India and all the provinces in between, the instrument has become emblematic of Arab culture. As it has spread into Israeli hands, and, like falafel and hookah, it has become an easy go-to when looking for a cultural touchstone to talk about ethnic sounds and bridging traditions. Hence the Confederation House-organized festival, which brings harmonious music to the very front lines of our culture clash.
Most of the concerts run between 80 and 120 NIS, but before you go saying the price is oudrageous, remember the famous saying about how oud music isn’t free. Or was that freedom? And If you're Ashkenazi and just not connecting to the flavor, no need to fret. Chanukah is right around the corner.
Photos of mystical composer Samir Mahoul, performing on December 1 (top), and of master hand percussionist Zohar Fresco, performing November 26, courtesy of the Oud Festival.
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