Constellation of stars

Mark Eliyahu lines up Rita, Shai Tsabari and more for Tu B’Av concert

A mix of cultures and music appears in ‘About Love,’ an Israel Festival performance under Jerusalem skies

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Mark Eliyahu will bring 'About Love' to the Israel Festival in honor of Tu B'Av, Israel's Valentine's Day, on August 1, 2023 (Carlos Yanez)
Mark Eliyahu will bring 'About Love' to the Israel Festival in honor of Tu B'Av, Israel's Valentine's Day, on August 1, 2023 (Carlos Yanez)

Musician Mark Eliyahu wants to celebrate what people have in common with one another, particularly on Tu B’Av, Israel’s version of Valentine’s Day.

He’s putting it all together in “About Love,” a performance for the Israel Festival in which Eliyahu, who plays the Iranian kamancheh (a bowed string instrument), is hosting four star performers on Tuesday, August 1.

It’s a version of a tour Eliyahu has been performing for the last year around the world, connecting to musicians from various populations and cultures.

“The music ties and crosses borders because there are no borders in music, not in people or territories,” said Eliyahu.

His “About Love” on the road inspired Eliyahu’s upcoming performance at the Israel Festival, with four guests: Iranian-born Israeli diva Rita, who brings her Persian roots to the Israeli mainstream; Arabic speaker and singer Valerie Hamaty; Shai Tsabari, who offers motifs and melodies from the Mizrahi Mediterranean, with touches of liturgical poems that have also reached the mainstream; and Turkish-born world music artist Omar Faruk Tekbilek, who Eliyahu said inspired him as a musician when he was younger with his sounds.

Eliyahu’s father, tar player Piris Eliyahu, is set to join them onstage as well.

“We want to connect all these worlds on the stage — to give another view to the familiar works alongside new works — under the skies of Jerusalem,” said Eliyahu. “We’re creating a contra right now to all the separation people are feeling, separated by race, gender or religion or any other reason.”

The five musicians have been working on this online for months, choosing songs and covers, and have been rehearsing together in person for the last few days.

About Love, Tuesday, August 1, Independence Park, Jerusalem, followed by an after party.

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