Desert tunes: Infusing Israel's Negev with music and life

On the backdrop of the ancient Negev desert, French musician and his ensemble treated their hiking guests to tunes, ranging from Israeli to Russian and Italian folk, jazz and more.

By
February 23, 2019 18:20
3 minute read.
The 10-day musical journey with the Tournees des Refuge ensemble and Sde Boker Field School in Midre

The 10-day musical journey with the Tournees des Refuge ensemble and Sde Boker Field School in Midreshet Ben Gurion. (photo credit: ZIV SHERZER)

 
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“This was neither a trip nor a tour. This was a most beautiful, complete, and moving experience.”

The impressions that the Tournée des Refuges (Tour of the Refuges) ensemble left on 35 hikers who trekked 150 kilometers through the Negev while listening to uplifting and traditional tunes were unlike anything the participants experienced before.

On the backdrop of the ancient Negev desert, French musician Gaspard Panfiloff and his ensemble treated their hiking guests to tunes, ranging from Israeli to Russian and Italian folk, jazz and more.



“Millions of years became seconds, and the desert was suddenly a moving area of tectonic and erosion struggles,” Michael Bos and Alexandra Schuller mused.

The couple flew in from France to take part in the 10-day musical adventure earlier this month, which led the group from Sde Boker to the Arava Valley, through ancient routes, desert gorges, mountain peaks and Bedouin encampments - all under the sunny desert sky.

The musical expedition was organized in conjunction with a group of tour guides, led by Ziv Sherzer, the Guiding Department Head of the Sde Boker Field School in Midreshet Ben Gurion.

The 10-day musical journey with the Tournees des Refuge ensemble and Sde Boker Field School in Midreshet Ben Gurion (Credit: Ziv Sherzer)

“A dynamic, joyful and generous team of young, extraordinary people guided us, led by a desert impassioned guy who once read a book and decided to call a crazy musician who used to spend his summers hiking in the mountains with his friends,” Bos and Schuller gushed, referring to Sherzer who brought the French ensemble to Israel's south.

Besides providing the trekkers with meals and provisions, the guides made sure that the more than 10 kilometer daily hikes would lead through ancient landscapes and local communities, all the while offering the tourists historical explanations and geological descriptions of their surroundings. 

“Of course, the desert is a very special place, where the rest of the world disappears, leaving us only with ourselves to care about. But being only with ourselves doesn't mean we were alone,” Bos and Schuller recounted.



But the real highlights were the musical intermezzo's during short breaks of the hike, and the concerts guests were treated to in the evenings when the instruments of the Tournée des Refuges ensemble took them on a wholly different trip.

“At night, when Gaspard played balalaïka, the desert flew above Russian landscapes,” the couple said. “Then Florian's voice and guitar melodies took us to sunny Italian villages, only minutes before Strophe's violin notes pulled us to the roads of the Balkans and Romania."

The 10-day musical journey with the Tournees des Refuge ensemble and Sde Boker Field School in Midreshet Ben Gurion (Credit: Ziv Sherzer)

"In the end, stars spun again above the desert while flying above the Atlantic Ocean to New Orleans' streets, as Nesar's voice and double bass were playing swing tones."

“And somewhere in a flying desert between the earth and the stars, hands and hearts were beating together,” the inspired couple told of their unforgettable experience.



The 10-day musical journey with the Tournees des Refuge ensemble and Sde Boker Field School in Midreshet Ben Gurion (Credit: Ziv Sherzer)

The 10-day musical journey with the Tournees des Refuge ensemble and Sde Boker Field School in Midreshet Ben Gurion (Credit: Ziv Sherzer)
The 10-day musical journey with the Tournees des Refuge ensemble and Sde Boker Field School in Midreshet Ben Gurion (Credit: Ziv Sherzer)

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