Sour note

Show goes on with Israeli orchestra under BDS threat in Morocco

The Andalusian Orchestra Ashdod opens festival amid great pressure from activists in Casablanca

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

Last year, the Israeli Andalusian Orchestra Ashdod performed for the first time in Morocco, an event that was planned in near secrecy.

This year, the Israeli orchestra opened the Andalussyat Festival on December 4, but the performance took place amid tremendous pressure to cancel and threats to boycott the festival from local BDS activists opposed to normalized relations between Israel and Morocco.

The concert of classical Andalusian music was performed by some 100 musicians and soloists, and was only made public after the orchestra returned to Israel.

“We opened the festival with a concert that is entirely a message of peace and dialogue – achieved through music,” said Jacob Ben Simon, the orchestra’s general manager in a written statement. “People demonstrating for canceling the performance have no interest in music, peace and the added value of the concert and festival.”

Ben Simon expressed his gratitude to the festival’s management for supporting the Israeli contingent and making them feel safe.

“I am filled with appreciation and awe of your silent efforts behind the scene to reject any attempt to cancel our performance and of your persistence in light of the pressure,” he said. “One must study the uniqueness of Morocco as a place that offers security to all religions.”

The Andalussyat, which is the international Andalusian music festival in Casablanca, is considered the largest and most important event for classical Andalusian music in the world.

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