Two for the ages

This week sees the debut of a new music event in the Holy City, the Jewish Music Days festival.

This week sees the debut of a new music event in the Holy City, the Jewish Music Days festival. Produced by the Confederation House, Beit Shmuel and Beit Avi Chai, the event is a week long celebration encompassing both the traditional music of various Jewish communities and innovative, contemporary compositions. Two of the more innovative programs are a performance of solo piano pieces by Yitzhak Yedid, and a performance by singer Charlotte Shulamit Ottolenghi. Yedid's concert, to take place on Wednesday at the Confederation House, consists of interpretations of and improvisations on Jewish folk tunes, all inspired by the paintings of Marc Chagall. Yedid, a mainstay of the creative music scene and laureate of the Prime Minister's annual prize for composers for 2006, has spent the last year in New York and has come back with what he calls "an artistic and musical alternative of love and beauty to the present hatred and fear surrounding us." Italian-born vocalist Ottolenghi, who was once a clinical psychologist before she decided to dedicate her life to music, will present Italian piyutim accompanied by saxophone, electronic elements and percussion. "Since I was a child, I listened to the prayers in the Milano great synagogue and at the Jewish school," she says. After her first encounter with electronic music, which "stunned me like thunder" as she puts it, she decided to make it her own and combine traditions. She is accompanied by composer/computer wiz/saxophonist Alfredo Santolucci and our own Latin percussion maestro Abe Doron, in a concert taking place on Thursday, also at the Confederation House. "All these artists represent exactly what we are ready to discover," says musical director Shlomo Yisraeli. "It is an uninterrupted thread that goes back centuries, ever changing and yet always the same Jewish culture that steps from the religious world into the cultural one, and then meets the contemporary Israeli musical creation." More about the festival can be found in Billboard, and a complete listing of concerts is here in the Capital Calendar.