Archive for the ‘This You'll Want To Hear’ Category

Modern Exodus: The Sarajevo Haggadah’s Musical Journey

April 14, 2014

This piece was first published in The Times of Israel.

Detail of 'Maror' page of the Sarajevo Haggadah (courtesy of the Foundation for Jewish Culture)

Detail of ‘Maror’ page of the Sarajevo Haggadah (courtesy of the Foundation for Jewish Culture)

One of the millions of readers of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks’ 2008 “The People of the Book” was Merima Ključo, a Bosnian-born musician who left Sarajevo in 1993 during the Bosnian War. The novel offers a fictionalized history of the Sarajevo Haggadah, the medieval Spanish illustrated manuscript whose survival was oft perilous on its 650-year journey from Catalonia to Venice, to Sarajevo, to Vienna, and back to Sarajevo again, where until recently it was on permanent display at the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Like all Sarajevans, Ključo, 39, was already aware of the Sarajevo Haggadah. A prized national treasure that Jews, Christians and Muslims alike have endangered themselves to keep from destruction, the book is seen as the ultimate survivor and a potent symbol of the non-sectarian unity of the people of the Bosnian capital.

Ključo, a concert accordionist who performs with chamber and philharmonic orchestras around the world, decided that she, too, must retell the story of the famed Jewish manuscript—but through the language of music. The result is “The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book,” a multimedia work, which is the 2013-2014 New Jewish Culture Network’s music commission.

Click here to read more and watch a video preview.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

New Art Initiative Facilitates Friendships, Not Funding

December 29, 2013

This article was first published in The Times of Israel.

Tirtzah Bassel working on her 'Your Dreams Available Now' installation. (photo credit: Peter Svarzbein)

Tirtzah Bassel working on her ‘Your Dreams Available Now’ installation. (photo credit: Peter Svarzbein)

Israeli-born, New York-based installation artist Tirtzah Bassel uses multi-colored duct tape in the way that other artists use oil paints. Harnessing the potential of the hardware store staple, she creates mural-size scenes that audiences can observe near and far to appreciate the unusual medium’s detail and texture.

Last May, Bassel created one of her duct tape installations in a storefront in El Paso, Texas. The colorful work, titled, “Your Dreams Available Now,” depicts scenes from the border crossing between El Paso and Juarez, Mexico. It includes men in cowboy hats sitting and watching passersby, a woman selling flowers, people crossing bridges on foot and by bike, and even a statue of the Virgin Mary. The mural is meant to engage the local community in critical dialogue on the impact of the border.

It wasn’t by chance that Bassel created her installation in El Paso. She had been invited there by fellow Jewish artist Peter Svarzbein, an El Paso native. Svarzbein, who is a photographer and conceptual artist, is interested in subjects such as state security, bridges, border crossings and standing in line. Several of his recent projects deal with the nearby frontier, including “The El Paso Transnational Trolley Project,” which explores the tenuous relationship between El Paso and Juarez.

But El Paso residents would likely have never had the opportunity to enjoy Bassel’s thought-provoking installation had she not attended the first-ever Asylum Arts retreat in Garrison, New York in March 2013. It was there that she met Svarzbein, along with 63 other young Jews artists from North America, Europe, Latin America and Israel.

Asylum Arts is new global network for Jewish culture, and one of its main goals is to facilitate collaborations like the one between Bassel and Svarzbein. Formally established this past October following the successful March retreat, the organization hosts gatherings and training for artists and provides modest grants to foster connections to broaden the reach and impact of Jewish artists and arts institutions. Asylum Arts is supported in its pilot phase by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Network and the Genesis Philanthropy Group.

Click here to read more.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

MTV World Takes On Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

December 9, 2013

This piece was first published in The Times of Israel.

Singer Maysa Daw performs at a community concert in the Jordan Valley in the northern West Bank. (photo credit: Mikhail Galustov/Courtesy of MTV World)

Singer Maysa Daw performs at a community concert in the Jordan Valley in the northern West Bank. (photo credit: Mikhail Galustov/Courtesy of MTV World)

Rebel Music,” a new series from MTV World, showcases young people in six countries around the globe putting themselves on the front lines to make social changes through art and music.

 The series, executive produced and given its visual identity by artist Shepard Fairey, gives Millennial Americans a glimpse into the lives of creative, activist youth in Egypt, Afghanistan, Mali, India, Israel/Palestine, and Mexico. The Israel/Palestine episodepremieres on mtvU on December 9.

“We see the headlines about a country in conflict or undergoing revolution and we forget there are young human beings with aspirations living there,” says Nusrat Durrani, MTV World’s general manager and senior vice president, as well as the series’ creator and executive producer.

“We noticed that a lot of countries in the news have stories around youth that are not being told,” he continues in a phone interview with The Times of Israel. “Many of these countries have huge youth populations and many of the movements in those countries are being driven by youth. For instance, we filmed in Egypt during the second revolution there earlier this year.”

In the Israel/Palestine episode, some of the musicians aren’t really all that young, but what matters to MTV is that they are young at heart and idealistic about the power of musical collaboration across political lines to change the status quo.

The episode features both known and lesser-known names in Israeli and Palestinian music. Kobi Farhi of Israeli progressive heavy metal band Orphaned Land (which has been around since 1991) is shown consulting with Abed Hathout of the Acre-based Palestinian-Israeli rock band Khalas (as in “enough” to the conflict) about Arabic lyrics. Khalas, with its Jewish Israeli bass player Rooster Tuning, is also shown performing on the same stage with Orphaned Land.

Click here to read more.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

 


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