Concert Review

Tafillat, Confederation House, Jerusalem, February 4

By BY JONAH MANDEL
February 11, 2010 09:00
2 minute read.
Tafillalt

Tafillalt. (photo credit: courtesy)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

The first chord that wafted gently through the melodica into the Confederation House auditorium last Thursday marked the onset of a musical journey through time and space, skillfully led by the Tafillalt ensemble in the launch concert for a new CD released under John Zorn’s prestigious Tzadik label.

Yair Harel (vocals, percussion, tar), Nori Jacoby (viola, vocals, melodica) and Yonatan Niv (cello, vocals) make up Tafillalt, established in 2000, and use traditional Jewish liturgical poetry, piyutim, as revered infrastructure for contemporary orchestration and personal expression. The three young musicians, who also penned some of the compositions, were joined by Eitan Kirsch (acoustic bass) and Yarden Erez (accordion, fiddle, keyboard, percussion) in the Jerusalem performance. 

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Texts and melodies primarily from the corpus of North African and Iraqi synagogue traditions, sacred and modern poetry, as well as Hassidic pieces – all received equally attentive arrangements and were executed flawlessly by the highly capable and versatile musicians. Harel’s sincere and accurate singing, as well as his pleasant and modest stage presence, not only enabled the audience to enjoy the ensemble in its entirety, but also served as a reminder of the original liturgical function of the piyut.

This reviewer found the song “Hatikun” (The Rectification) especially moving. The text is based on a crumpled note Niv found “drifting in the streets of Jerusalem,” in which a junkie bears his soul to God and makes a thought-provoking analogy between destructive addictive substances and religious devotion.

Another concert highlight was the rendition of what Harel introduced as the oldest known piece of Jewish music, the 12th century piyut “Moshe.” The 800-year-old Jewish melody seemed so at home with the large windows behind the musicians framing the backdrop of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Much remains to be said about contemporary renditions and recordings of music that was once primarily performed within the confines of synagogues. It should, however, be pointed out that in past years synagogues have served as true centers for communal get-togethers, with worship as the focal point but not the exclusive activity. Projects such as Tafillalt do justice to what used to be almost popular forms of music and expression by returning them to the public with a smile and an openness to contemporary musical forms and personal expression.

The ensemble’s music is not always easy to listen to, perhaps particularly for those whose occidental ears are less familiar with the scales, beats and musical phrasings employed. But a further listening to the group’s elegant CD allows a deeper exploration of the ensemble’s rich musical and cultural world in a project of forward-looking preservation.

Related Content

Sarah Silverman
August 26, 2014
Jewish women take home gold at 2014 Emmys

By JTA