Female fanfare

Marking the 100th International Women’s Day, the Holon Women’s Festival has a class lineup of mainly female talent from across the board, including some celebrity imports.

famous female singers_521 (photo credit: (Dan Peretz))
famous female singers_521
(photo credit: (Dan Peretz))
The annual Women’s Festival at the Holon Theater which, this year, takes place between March 9-12 is chock-full of different genres, styles, age groups and artistic bent.
There are musical slots, theater, dance and film, as well as exhibitions of works across a range of disciplines, including painting, sculpture, photography, fashion and video art.
There are some non-showbiz items in there too.
The festival also marks the 100th International Women’s Day, and a decade and a half since the inaugural Holon event.
The festival organizers have certainly done their best to cater to all tastes with a class lineup of mainly female talent from across the board, including some imports.
One of the most entertaining in the latter department is Portuguese singer Lura (March 11), whose family hails from the former Portuguese colony Cape Verde. The Atlantic Ocean island archipelago’s best known artistic export is iconic singer Cesaria Evora, who is also known as “the barefoot diva” due to her penchant for performing shoeless.
But while Lura says she gets much of her cultural baggage from Cape Verde, in fact she was born and raised in Portugal, with a multitude of musical influences.
“My parents only listened to Cape Verde music, but I listened to pop music on the radio, and soul music, jazz and blues,” says the 35-year-old singer, who was born with a far lengthier, and definitively non-catchy, moniker – Maria de Lurdes Assunção Pina.
“I discovered blues later, when I started singing. There is something similar in the blues and the music of Cape Verde. There’s the same black spirit.”
The bluesy element in Cape Verdean music – albeit very different from the blues of African American origin – is a common denominator shared with Cape Verde’s former ruling country, despite the fact that in Portugal the genre is known as fado.
“Yes, we share that sense of longing and nostalgia you get from being near the sea,” explains Lura. “It’s the feeling you get when you look across the water to the horizon and you wonder what is there, on the side, where you can’t see.”
LURA BEGAN her singing career at the age of 17, when Juka, an artist from the West African island of São Tomé and Príncipe, asked her to sing a duet with him on an album. The CD became a success, and Lura subsequently contributed to productions by other Cape Verdean artists such as Bonga, from Congo, and Cape Verdean vocalists Tito Paris and Paulino Vieira.
She released her debut album, Nha Vida, in 1996 and has put out four more CDs in the interim, the last being Eclipse, which came out in 2009. Lura says she enjoys the best of both worlds, feeding off both her Cape Verdean roots and the many musical strands that run through the country of her birth.
“I go to Cape Verde as often as I can,” she declares. “It is very important for me to take inspiration from the pace [there] for my music, where my roots and passion are. I love to listen to the musicians there. There are older musicians there who are very close to the tradition and the roots of the music.”
Then again, as a “foreigner,” Lura has free artistic rein.
“I was born in Lisbon, so I feel the music from the outside is more interesting and different for me. I try to bring the music to life. If I had been born in Cape Verde and only listened to the music from there, maybe I would get fed up with it.
“Nothing in life happens by chance. I was born outside for a reason.”
Lura says she is delighted to be coming here and that she is looking forward to imbibing some our musical vibes while offering some of her own multicultural output.
“I love traveling and performing in different places in the world. I find that in other places, people are open to my music. They are curious and want to learn about the instruments and culture.
“I want to connect with the people and the ambience in Israel, and I’d love to sing with an oud. That would be something special.”
Another foreigner making an appearance at the Women’s Festival is Hollywood actress Anna Thomson, who was a guest of the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2000 when Amos Kollek’s Fast Food Fast Women – starring Thomson – was screened. Thomson will enlighten the audience in Holon about her work with Kollek, which also includes Sue (1997), Fiona (1998) and Bridget (2002). Thomson’s filmography also includes roles in Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning Unforgiven and Bird.
Rock ‘n’ roll fans should dig the allfemale tribute to Elvis Presley, It’s Now or Never (March 10). The show features a high-octane, cross-generational lineup of vocalists, including Riki Gal, Ruti Navon, Carolina, Tamar Eisenman, Yael Krauss and Yael Deckelbaum. Deckelbaum will also appear on the last day of the festival, in a show based on material from her forthcoming new CD, Joy and Sadness (March 12).
There will be music of an entirely different ilk, with a Hebrew-language version of the Broadway show I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, courtesy of the Gesher Theater company.
Besides the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, this year’s festival also marks the centenary of the birth of Sarah Levy-Tanai, founder of the Inbal Dance Theater Company and one of Israel’s greatest artistes, who pioneered the blending of Yemenite Jewish traditions and contemporary dance. The tribute production is called El Ginat Egoz (“To the Nut Garden”) and will incorporate dances from the long-standing Inbal repertoire and other works inspired by Levy-Tanai.
Meanwhile on the theater front, Dafna Rubinstein will present her debut production, All the Time in the World (March 9), which portrays the trials and tribulations experienced by a prostitute in a man’s world.
Other theatrical slots at the festival address a wide range of social, political and emotional issues, including Almastora the Modest, whch is a one-woman show based on true stories of women married to alcoholic or drug-addict husbands. Gvirti (“Lady”) looks at autism.
On the less commercial side of the musical tracks, young jazz pianist Katya Tuval (March 9) will offer her own improvised interpretations of songs originally performed by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin and Yehudit Ravitz; while Sharon Azaria (March 11) will offer a selection of her own take on folk music, and Yael Nataf (March 11) performs a program of self-penned rock numbers.
The festival also offers an opportunity to see what some of our female classical composers are up to with the March 11 Quartet Marathon project, hosting works by the likes of Hadass Goldschmidt-Halfon, Yasmin Tal, Yael Even-Haim and Tali Assa.
On the non-entertainment side, the festival will open (March 9, at 8:30 a.m.) with the Status conference, sponsored by business magazine Status, devoted to female leaders in the business world. Later on the festival’s opening day, the female doctors’ conference will address issues such as women in senior management and the advancement of women’s health.
For tickets and more information about the Women’s Festival, call (03) 502-3001/2/3 or see www.hth.co.il