Take a beautiful soprano well trained in the art of Western opera, add a musicologist and scholar in Ottoman classical music and a few skilled musicians, and bring them all to Beit Shmuel. Ah, yes, and don’t forget to reserve tickets, as the 400 seats at the Confederation House might be sold out at a very early stage of the 14th Oud Festival.

Claudia Nurit Henig is a superb opera performer: Her voice is gripping right from the first notes, whatever repertoire she chooses.For the past few years, she has taken an interest in Ottoman classical music, as well as the liturgical tradition of the Turkish Jews. She has performed this repertoire mainly with Prof. Walter Ze’ev Feldman, an American-born Ashkenazi who grew up close to Jewish families from Turkey and thus became familiar with their musical traditions. Over the years, Feldman has become a renowned scholar in Turkish and Jewish music, and the Mozart in Turkey program is the result of the encounter between the two.

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Henig studied the secrets of Ottoman traditional and classical music with Feldman for years, not only mastering the specific ways of singing this repertoire but also learning to play some of its most traditional instruments, such as the dayereh and the tambur.


While she has never given in to the strict demands of Western musical rules, she has managed to make the most delicate nuances of Ottoman singing her own, much to the delight of the connoisseurs of the genre.

Feldman’s story is quite amazing. After learning the musical and cultural traditions from his Turkish neighbors in New York, he studied and became one of the most highly respected international authorities in the field. Today, even in Turkey Feldman is considered one of the foremost experts in their musical tradition.

Feldman is also an expert in his own traditions of Ashkenazi music and dance. Two years ago, he taught and performed at Beit Avi Chai in a series called Ashkenazim Dance, which was a real success.

The decision to present a mixed program of classical Ottoman and Turkish music with Western classical music was a bold one, considering its framework – the Oud Festival. But the musical director of the festival, Effi Benayah, says he has already realized that the loyal festival audience is more than willing to be led into unknown territory, so that experience also has its place.

Mozart in Turkey: A Late Encounter of Western and Ottoman Turkish Vocal Music, with Ina Avakov, piano; Walter Ze’ev Feldman, tambur, doira, kudum; Boaz Galili, kamanja; Asaf Or, cello; Eitan Baruch, oud; and Yuval Harpaz, doira.
Tuesday, November 16 at 9 p.m. at Beit Shmuel.
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