"This Was What He Originally Intended..." Eran Zur, Elad Gabbai and Yair Harel November 15 Beit Avi Chai "Debka Fantasy" Omer Avital, Israel Borochov, Haya Samir and Yigal Mizrahi, the Contemporary Israel Quartet November 16 Merkaz Shimshon- Beit Shmuel The 10th annual Oud Festival, which runs until November 26, provides a wonderful blend of ancient and new, traditional and almost avant-garde music in various programs, expanding the borders of the cultures and sounds it offers its aficionados. Within the festival framework, the encounter between piyutim (Jewish liturgical songs) and rock music was particularly enjoyable, perhaps because it didn't try to take itself too seriously. Rock singer and guitarist Eran Zur, who for the past three years has been having a love affair with Oriental Jewish liturgy, presented a program entitled This Was What He Originally Intended..., featuring traditional and rock arrangements of Rabbi Israel Najara's poetry (1550-1625), one of the most prolific poetry and liturgy writers. With qanun and oud player Elad Gabbai, percussionist and singer Yair Harel and cellist Rali Margalit, the program added another link in the chain created 10 years ago of the enchanting and sometimes humorous en-counter between tradition and modernity. Debka Fantasy, which first appeared at last year's Israel Festival, provided one of the highlights of the Oud Festival. The musical result when Jewish pioneers from Europe who came to this land in the 1920s and met the Arab oud and the local Beduin melodies has produced some of the immortal songs known here as the shepherds' songs, set to lyrics by Bialik, Alterman, Penn and others - a precursor of what would be known 70 years later as world music. These songs, which which underwent masterful arrangements, were performed by a group of musicians and singers led by Israel Borochov, one of the first to mix East and West in his music. The high-level music and artistry of bass player Omer Avital, the incredible singing capacity of soloist Haya Samir and all the musicians created a very successful evening. Kudos to the Oud Festival's musical director Effi Benaya for bringing new insights and melodies to the event every year.