With a little help from some friends

Beatles cover band Umaguma teams up with Nitza Shaul to present the childhood stories of Lennon and McCartney.

umaguma band 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
umaguma band 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For most people, children’s music involves silly characters singing happy tunes about cookies and choo-choo trains. However, Nitza Shaul believes that children deserve to be exposed to something more sophisticated than that. Shaul created the Magical Sounds (Tzlilei Kessem) series 13 years ago with the goal of expanding children’s musical repertoire with a live show that tells the childhood stories of the great composers of the past, such as Bach and Mozart.
Shaul says that by reenacting these childhood stories, the Magical Sounds event can create a dialogue and form a common ground between the composers of the past and the children of today. “The goal is to find a way into the little hearts of the children,” she explains. “This way, they will be able to identify with the stories of the child composers.”
A child’s appreciation of music is much more developed than what people estimate it to be, Shaul asserts. In prior years, the Musical Sounds series featured artists such as Brahms, Stravinsky, and Louis Armstrong among others. Shaul says that children appreciated that because their musical taste is versatile, and this is what makes the show appeal to the younger audiences. “When you’re a child, everything that concerns music is magical,” Shaul explains the name Magical Sounds. “It’s not something scientific or logical… and it doesn’t matter what kind of music. It could be rock music, classical music, jazz or pop music – it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s really good music.”
For this reason, Shaul also focuses on these styles of music by ending the series with a show featuring popular contemporary musicians. This year, the series presents the childhood stories of Paul McCartney and John Lennon, accompanied by the music of The Beatles’ cover band Umaguma, from July 5 to 8. The band Umaguma performed in many other festivals in the past and gained momentum following their participation in the Beatles Festival in Holon in late April.
Although the Magical Sounds event is targeted for a younger audience, Oded Tamsoot, Umaguma’s guitarist and vocalist, does not feel the need to put up an act or present the band in a different way. He says that the costumes and the décor of the show will add to what appeals to children, but The Beatles music that Umaguma performs speaks for itself. “We always deliver what we deliver. We don’t change ourselves,” Tamsoot claims. “We will do our part the way we know how.”
Tamsoot further explains that The Beatles’ songs, in and of themselves, can appeal to children because of the positivity that comes across in almost all their tunes. “Beatles is the band that had the most simchat chayim until today,” Tamsoot explains. “They managed to make everything happy and upbeat. Even their sad songs had positive energies. Even songs like “Help” or “A Hard Day’s Night,” which have heavy lyrics, the tempo itself is really happy. The Beatles can take a text with a sad meaning and make something happy out of it.”
Umaguma will be playing The Beatles songs while ballroom dancers willperform on stage all the popular dances of the 60s – Rock n’ Roll,twist and jive, just to name a few. Shaul describes how the dancerswill also perform the drama within the childhood stories of Lennon andMcCartney through dance. “If there was a conflict between the parentsof John Lennon when he was a kid, and they were fighting over him, sothere is a dance with John Lennon [as a child] with his mommy anddaddy.”
Shaul picked The Beatles for this year’s closing performance, not onlybecause “they are considered to be one of the most prominent bands inthe world, and quite rightly so,” but also because of the joyfulelement of their tunes. “We want it to be a real party,” she says. “Ifa certain kind of music brought joy to its audience throughoutgenerations, something must be good in it.”
The Magical Sounds closing performance featuring the story ofThe Beatles will be held from July 5 to 8 at Beit HaOpera in Tel Aviv.Tickets cost 85 NIS. To order: 03-692-7777;www.israel-opera.co.il.