AFP — Electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre said he will perform in Israel next month in a concert to publicize the plight of the shrinking Dead Sea.
The lowest and saltiest body of water in the world is receding by roughly a meter (three feet) each year and experts have warned it is on course to dry out by 2050.
The 68-year-old French composer told AFP in a telephone interview Wednesday that he would play at the ancient clifftop fortress of Masada on April 6 to “make the world aware” of the threat.”
The Dead Sea’s current crisis started in the 1960s when Israel, Jordan and Syria began to divert water from the Jordan River, its main source.
Jarre is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO,) which in 2002 designated Masada as a world heritage site.
He said he had not been pressured by groups calling for a boycott of Israel “because it is a universal project under the aegis of UNESCO.”
He says he wants to “sound the alert on the urgency of saving the Dead Sea” which is bordered by Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.
The performance at Masada, which looms over the Dead Sea on the Israeli side, was conceived more than 18 months ago and is intended “to be festive but also to contribute to an important cause,” Jarre said.
Masada was built in the first century BCE by King Herod on a rocky outcrop 430 meters (1290 feet) above the Dead Sea and it marks a seminal event in Jewish history.
During the Jewish Revolt against Rome a century later, from 66 to 70 CE, Jewish rebels entrenched themselves at Masada. Nearly four years after the fall of Jerusalem, a Roman army besieged the last holdouts. According to Josephus Flavius, the sole historical source for the battle, the Jewish rebels committed mass suicide before Roman troops stormed the battlements. Archaeologists have challenged the historicity of that account, however.
Jarre said that his Masada concert would be state-of-the art. “We shall be using modern French and Israeli technology to make this show something unique,” he said.
The eight-hour long nighttime performance will be streamed live through an Israeli smartphone application giving a 360 degree view.
“What is important to me is that the world understand that the problems of the Dead Sea concern not only residents of the region but humanity,” Jarre said.
Jarre has put on several of the biggest concerts ever, including a 1997 show for Moscow’s 850th anniversary that drew 3.5 million people and included a message from cosmonauts in space.
He remains prolific, releasing three albums in the past 14 months.
Tickets for Jean-Michel Jarre’s one-night performance on April 6 will range from NIS 490 to NIS 3,000 and there are hotel packages. More information available at the Jean-Michel Jarre in Israel website. Call *2207 to order tickets.