A very special project: The keyboardist, composer and producer speaks out

Idan Raichel: "In creating this musical project we feel as if we are cultural ambassadors for Israel."

Idan Raichel (photo credit: Courtesy)
Idan Raichel
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When I was asked to write a few words about myself, I didn’t have to give the matter much thought – the first word that came to mind was privilege.
It’s such an enormous privilege for me to be able to do what I love and even more so that we, the Idan Raichel Project, have achieved an international audience that makes it all possible. I live the project around the clock and feel fortunate to work with such a talented team of musicians and singers.
In creating this musical project we feel as if we are cultural ambassadors for Israel and it’s an enormous pleasure to perform on stages around the world to diverse audiences of all ages, religions and sectors.
World music artists are able to reveal original work in the form of music that is the soundtrack of their places of origin.
We are proud and excited to share Israel, as we see it, with varied audiences each night.
Over the past few years we have been traveling the world to bring this very special project to as many communities as possible. We recently returned from a concert tour in Europe, an amazing endeavor made possible due to the quality of the people involved.
With great pride, we play music rooted in the streets of Tel Aviv, the neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the back alleys of Kfar Saba, which is where I grew up.
The best compliment I ever received was when The New York Times described the Idan Raichel Project as Israel’s “Musicians of the Decade.” It reminded me of the albums and artists through whom I had vicariously experienced distant places I could then only dream of visiting someday. When you hear Edith Piaf’s dramatic singing, even if you don’t speak French and have never been to France, you imagine yourself strolling down the long boulevards of Paris. Mercedes Sosa paints a picture of the romantic scenery of South America through her vivid descriptions of people and the paths they’ve chosen.
So far, 95 singers and musicians have participated in the Idan Raichel Project, the youngest of whom is 16 and the youngest in spirit are 83 and 91.
These musicians hail from Yemen, Ethiopia, the former Soviet Union, Germany, Morocco, Colombia and Cape Verde. Some of them are new immigrants, and others have been living in Israel for generations. They perform in Hebrew, Amharic, German, Moroccan and Arabic.
When I look back over the past few years, I see an Israel I am happy with.
When I walk through the streets of Tel Aviv, I see a people I’m proud to represent all over the world.
The people of this amazing country are unimaginably beautiful. I tell our audiences, “Listen. And then when you’ve finished listening, come visit.”
Translated by Hannah Hochner