String it along

Oud fest marks 20th year with ancient and contemporary renditions

New and veteran performers will take part in 13 events over ten days of November festival

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

Armenian oud artist Ara Dinkjian, founder of the Night Ark ensemble, who will appear at this year's Oud Festival in Jerusalem, on November 23, 2019 (Courtesy Alena Soboleva)
Armenian oud artist Ara Dinkjian, founder of the Night Ark ensemble, who will appear at this year's Oud Festival in Jerusalem, on November 23, 2019 (Courtesy Alena Soboleva)

The annual Oud Festival will be celebrating its 20th year with ten days of 13 performances, November 21 through 30, in a number of Jerusalem venues.

The concerts bring together all kinds of performers, new and veteran musicians, some from the east and others from the west.

The opening performance on Thursday, November 21, brings together Turkish musician Omar Farouk Tekbilek and guitarist Brian Keane, who will be hosting Zara, the Turkish vocalist-actress of Kurdish origin. Tekbilek and Keane have been working together for 30 years and have recorded seven albums together.

Tekbilek, a well-known world music performer, has worked with Israeli artists Ofra Haza and Yasmin Levy, while Keane has appeared with Paco de Lucia and Bobby McFerrin.

Saturday night of the festival brings together Armenian artist Ara Dinkjian of the Night Ark ensemble, with Turkish vocalist Burcu Yildiz. It’s considered unusual for a Turkish performer to sing Armenian music, but these two have a long affiliation. Yildiz co-directed  in the documentary “Garod,” about Dinkjian and his father, musician Onnik Dinkjian.

Ara Dinkjian’s music is also known in Israel, particularly his opening theme for the 1990s TV comedy show, “Hahamishia Hakamerit” and his song, “Ze Hazman Lisloah.”

Sunday night of the festival brings Yemenite artist Lea Avraham, a singer and dancer known for her work with the Inbal and Batsheva troupes. Avraham will perform some of her most popular works with her friends, vocalist Esti Keinan-Ofri and saxophone player Abatte Barihun.

One of the more contemporary performances at the festival is “Ethno-Digital” on Sunday, November, 24 at HaMiffal with Ittai Binnun, who draws from ancient musical traditions and instruments, combining Hasidic, Arabic, Turkish and African music with rock, jazz and Western electronic sounds.

Sitar master Shahid Parvez and vocalist Parveen Sultana, considered two of India’s most outstanding contemporary musicians, will perform on Thursday, November 28, at the Jerusalem Theatre. Soprano Sultana has performed since age 12 and has been featured in several Bollywood films.

There are several free events as well, including Oud Youth, recitals by solo oud players from the Zeryab Conservatory of Music in Nazareth, on Friday, November 29 at the Te’enim Restaurant in the Confederation House.

Another free event is Young Classics, in which students from the Department of Eastern Music at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance will present works from the Arabic classical repertoire alongside original contemporary works on Saturday evening, November 30, in the foyer of the Jerusalem Theatre.

“In its 20th year, the Oud Festival remains faithful to its artistic concept,” said director Effie Benaya. “The festival provides a stage for Arab classical and art music, featuring its fascinating interaction with Jewish music in the Land of Israel and its neighbors.”

The full schedule for the festival is available online. Ticket prices range from NIS 80 to NIS 250 and can be purchased from Bimot.

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