(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
In the Ashdod Andalusian Orchestra’s recent concert, conducted by oud virtuoso Taiseer Elias, the climax was singer Ahinoam Nini.
Of Yemenite descent, Nini enchanted with traditional Yemenite songs in the authentic style of guttural, dark-timbred voice production. She then branched out to an Arabic piece by a Lebanese singer “to make music a bridge between nations,” as she remarked optimistically, and also to contemporary Israeli pieces such as a song set to a text by Leah Goldberg, delivered with a clear, radiant soprano voice. Discrete accompaniment was provided by guitarist Gil Dor.
Particularly encouraging was the Rana choir, consisting of Israeli and Arab women. Their collaboration and coordination was perfect – another example of, hopefully, music as a bridge.
The program was a mixed bag of pieces based on the Andalusian tradition that Jews carried with them, with other rescued belongings, when expelled from Spain, absorbing abundant influences from Arabic music on their long way through North Africa, Syria and Lebanon, up to Iraq. This resulted in a multitude of eclectic musical styles, presented expertly in this amusing concert.
Noteworthy was Benjamin Buzaglo, who represented, inter alia, the Algerian tradition, authentically and enthusiastically.
The audience obviously felt completely at home with this music – in Hebrew and Arabic alike – responding with excited applause.