Music for the world

The International Music Showcase is around the corner.

By
November 10, 2016 18:35
4 minute read.
Edin Zubcevic

Edin Zubcevic. (photo credit: BARAK WEISS)

 
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The 2016 International Music Showcase is almost upon us.

The sixth edition of the jazz and world music slot of the annual cultural marketing event will take place in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv from November 16 to 20.

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Over the five days, some of our brightest talents in both genres will strut their stuff at the Yellow Submarine in Jerusalem and the Barby Club in Tel Aviv in front of several dozen artistic directors of festivals and important music venues, buyers, promoters, producers and agents from around the world in the hopes of getting an invite to perform abroad in the not too distant future. The VIP guests hail from India, New York, Sarajevo, Belgium and elsewhere across the globe. Members of the public are also welcome at all shows.

Some of the foreign guests come back to get a second glimpse at what we have to offer. The returnees include Edin Zubcevic, who heads the Sarajevo Jazz Festival which ended earlier this week. He clearly took stock of several shows he caught last year – at both the jazz and world music goings on – and at the second leg of the showcase, which presents artists in the rock, indie and electronica categories. This year’s jazz bash in Sarajevo featured a couple of Israeli acts – jazz pianist Nitai Hershkowitz and indie band Tatran.

Zubcevic, who founded his festival almost two decades ago, says he enjoyed last year’s foray immensely and is looking forward to seeing what we have to offer this time round.

Given the common history of regional violence, he also feels a sense of kinship with us and has experienced his fair share of political upheavals and difficult life situations.

“We started planning the festival in late 1996, and we had the first one in 1996,” he says. “We started working on it just six months after the siege of Sarajevo.”



The latter took place during the Bosnian War, and the city was blockaded for almost four years, ending on February 29, 1996.

Those dark days left Zubcevic determined to enrich the cultural lives of the people around him, as well as providing the local artistic community with a much-needed boost.

“Over the 20 years, we have been changing and reinventing ourselves and changing the format of the festival. We want to make a kind of statement – in the first place, a statement of survival, that we still exist. That is huge for us because after the war was over, we just wanted to make concerts and festivals so we could get back to the normal free life that we had missed over the years. It was a reaction from the people to make things better,” he says.

The spirit was willing, but initially it took a supreme effort by Zubcevic to get the show on the road.

“For the first five years it was really a one-man show. Now it is a full organization, but we still only have two full-time and two part-time people working over the year. To begin with, we were partisan, so to speak. We said, ‘Let’s just do it and we’ll see what happens.’” Although the Sarajevo Jazz Festival is now an established member of the global jazz circuit and has attracted some big names over the years, Zubcevic says he cannot afford to rest on his laurels.

“Festival directors present things and ideas they believe in, but in reality what we really do is try to please the artists, we try to please the audience, we try to please the sponsors, we try to please everyone – the city, the state, everyone. But no one tries to please us. We have to be devoted to what we do. There is no other way,” he says.

He adds that the toughening-up phase he went through prior to founding the festival stood him in good stead.

“We didn’t have any support from the government, but we said we will not give up. We learned that during the siege. I didn’t want to be the one who gives up, and then everything [with the festival] will be over,” he explains.

Zubcevic believes there are greater benefits to be had from his festival than just quality music and intriguing artistic exploration.

“This is a post-trauma society, like many other societies,” he posits. “We are really trying to do something for society. It’s a mission. We are here for the music because we really believe in the music and its power of reconciliation, its healing power.”

There appear to be plenty of parallel lines running through Israel and Bosnia and lots of similar challenges. As far as Zubcevic is concerned, the more we hook up with some groovy musical vibes, the better things will be for one and all.

“We know the common language is music, and we have to find the people that share that common language,” he says. “And music can change your life in the blink of an eye.”

Here’s hoping that our Bosnian friend, and many of his colleagues from around the world, dig some more Israeli acts here, both at the jazz and world music showcase and the subsequent rock, indie and electronica offerings (November 23 to 27). Besides providing audiences overseas with an idea of what Israeli artists have to offer, it could help to send a more positive message and project a better image of Israel than is normally the case.

For more information: http:// yellowsubmarine.org.il/ and https:// www.barby.co.il/

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