Classical review: Ashdod Andalusian Orchestra

December 6, 2016 20:20
Four military helicopters fly over the Mediterranean sea opposite the port of Ashdod

Four military helicopters fly over the Mediterranean sea opposite the port of Ashdod. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Season Opening
Jerusalem Theater, November 27

The Sephardi musical tradition was presented expertly and mostly authentically by the Ashdod Andalusian Orchestra in its season opening concert, conducted by Sivan Albo Ben-Hor.

Unlike a symphony orchestra, this one includes Middle Eastern instruments such as the oud (lute), kanun (zither) and darbuka (drum). Their solo interludes enriched the performance by their characteristic tone colors and the instrumentalists’ remarkable virtuosity. The only foreign element in this context was a piano that in this environment seemed out of place.

The performance’s attractive part was renditions of traditional Sephardi synagogue prayer chants (piyutim) and supplications (bakashot). They were performed impressively by Lior Almaliach, Liron Lev and female vocalists Rivka Zohar and Shir Yifrach, with typical guttural voice production, spiced generously with melisms. More recent popular Israeli songs were also performed. Many melodies were well known to the audience, whose humming happily joined the stage performers. For the audience this performance was not only a musical experience, but predominantly a nostalgic one.

When it was all over, everyone left the hall with a smile.

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