Watar Ensemble Oud Festival Confederation House Jerusalem December 3 While it may sound somewhat cheesy to describe the Watar Ensemble's concert at the Oud Festival as "a breath of fresh air," it is difficult to think of a more apt definition of the six members' individual and collective performance. Right from the start, the sense was one of being led into an enchanted world full of unexpected treasures and delights. The undulating and alternating rhythms, and subtle key changes and harmonics were delivered with a minimum of fuss but with abundant dexterity and freshness. While the repertoire was clearly Arabic in nature, there were nuances from other cultural climes. Jazz-trained Hagai Bilitzky on double bass, for example, added rich harmonic depth one does not normally find in the Arabic idiom. Then Lev Elman and Fadi Hanah - the latter also doubled on bouzouk - provided plenty of fireworks on percussion, most notably on "Wahem (Illusions)." Violinist Srur Saliba shone brightly throughout the proceedings. Joint musical directors, oud player Wasim Oda and Maharan Miraeb on qanun, evidently have a flair for bright composition and arrangement. The ensemble always gave the impression of a cohesive and mutually attentive unit, but there was still room for individual expression. Most of the Jewish-Arab sextet's concerts to date have been held in the Galilee, but it is to be hoped we will see and hear more of them in the central parts of the country too.