JAMD June in Jerusalem

n JAMD student dance project Body-Place- Dance, Jerusalem choreographers created pieces relevant to the contemporary capital (photo credit: HADAR ALFASI)
n JAMD student dance project Body-Place- Dance, Jerusalem choreographers created pieces relevant to the contemporary capital
(photo credit: HADAR ALFASI)
It’s been a busy springtime for Jerusalem. First the age-old stone buildings tried to wrap their heads around almost 200 cyclists whizzing by, as the Giro d’Italia came to town. Then American Secret Service teams descended as the US Embassy arrived, followed by the embassies of Guatemala and Nicaragua.
Now, for three days in June, the city will ring out with beautiful music as the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance (JAMD) celebrates 85 years.
Fancy an English tea with a touch of liturgical a-capella choral singing in the Monastery of the Cross, built by the Byzantines? Or a classical Arab music concert in the Museum of North African Jewry? Or some orchestral spiritual stirring in the British Mandate’s International YMCA? You’ll find all this and more in the extraordinary extravaganza set to make the ancient city hum.
Oh dear, Jerusalem, claimed by so many as their own; home to daily dramas and endless angst. The inhabitants would do well to take a leaf out of the JAMD songbook. Because the faculty is cross-disciplinary, the strains of classical works mingle in the corridors with the pulse of Arabic music and the haunting cadences of Jewish Klezmer melodies. It is a magical situation where coexistence reigns supreme.
“The Academy is a bubble of sanity,” says Prof.
Yinam Leef, president of the institution and an acclaimed composer in his own right. “In an Israel that has become a cynical land, creativity is more important than ever.”
Nearly 2,000 students of all creeds and colors sing and dance their way into the various faculties of JAMD each day, honing their moves and voices and conducting skills and practicing on instruments ranging from the piano to the piccolo.
THE ACADEMY consists of three institutions:
The high school for seventh to 12th graders is Israel’s equivalent of FAME, with a dual curriculum of regular matriculation subjects and advanced studies in music or dance. Youngsters, hoping that they’re “gonna live forever” and determined that people will remember their name, pray hard to be accepted into these classrooms.
The Conservatory provides professional training in music and dance to pre-college students and to pre-kindergarten pupils as well. Tiny tots attend singing “lessons” with their parents. Watch the video online to see our future stars banging on tambourines and yelping with delight as they hit all the right notes at the age of one. The Conservatory is the oldest establishment of its kind in Israel, and among the leaders, with a curriculum spanning individual instruction in all instruments, music theory, ballet and modern dance.
Then there is the Academy, providing undergraduate and graduate degrees in almost all genres of music and dance. Want to learn the bassoon or how to sing a lied? The Academy is the place for you. Fancy a master’s degree in performance practice of 21st century chamber works? A JAMD program beckons. The keyboard department offers piano lessons with Israel’s greatest teachers, of course, but you can also study the harpsichord or the church organ or even the accordion. From solo instrumental and vocal instruction to chamber music and jazz, orchestral music, choral singing and composition, conducting and music theory, the Academy has something for all musical appetites.
While on the subject of appetites, just to whet those of the music-loving public, Amina Harris, chairman of the JAMD board, laid on a soiree in her swanky Tel Aviv apartment where pianists Yaron Rosenthal and Ron Regev, faculty members and current and past Keyboard Department heads, delighted assembled guests with sparkling duets and tidbits of information that make life worth living.
Did you know that after the French Revolution, music became accessible to all and people began to take lessons on their own newly acquired pianos? That’s why composers began to write short, easy pieces that ladies of leisure could play in a passable fashion: bagatelles and preludes and intermezzos and such. (I grew up hearing my dad, who wasn’t really a musical buff, dismissing any minor irritation as “a mere bagatelle” – until the magical musical event I had no idea what he meant. Which goes to prove that you live long enough, you eventually get an education.) “JERUSALEM IS the center of the world,” says Regev, “and our academy has a mixture of people from all of its corners. Israeli Jews, Muslims and Christians, foreigners, religious and secular and anything in between – all fertilize each other’s art, and the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.”
Now the public is invited to see and hear for themselves.
At various uber-atmospheric spaces, anyone can catch a chamber-music delight, or a snatch of Andalusian or jazz ensembles jamming. Recipients of Honorary Fellowships – renowned pianist Evgeni Kissin, Carnegie Hall director Sir Clive Gillinson and founder of Vertigo Dance Company Noa Wertheim – will add glamour to the festivities, where Dr. Sharon Nazarian will also receive an honorary award on behalf of her family’s great support for the Academy.
And, of course, there will be food. Gala dinners and champagne lunches, candlelit feasts and musical treats are set to offer Israel’s contested capital a well-deserved break. Out of Zion much has come forth; the sweet strains of King David’s harp echo today in the Academy that stands only meters from where he might have composed some of his loveliest melodies.
It’s a harmonious thought.
For more information and tickets: www.jamd.ac.il/en/bog
The writer lectures at Beit Berl and the IDC.