Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Middle Eastern Philharmonic?

When I was visiting with my friends Orna and Yair in Rosh Pina last week, they told me about a very special undertaking that they are involved with. They have begun studying with a very accomplished musician in the art of playing classical middle eastern music on authentic, ancient instruments.

Yair is playing something similar to the Iranian 'tar' (which is probably the predecessor of the guitar we are all familiar with). Her is an article about the Tar: Wikipedia Article on the Tar.

Orna plays the "Ney" or "Nay." A Turkish instrument that is very common in Sufi music. The ney is very difficult to play. There is a bit more information about the ney (and other middle eastern instruments) on these two websites:

Middle Eastern Instuments Website

Wikipedia Article on the Ney

Orna and Yair's music teacher has a beautiful idea to build an orchestra of ordinary people (especially Jewish people) from the middle east, who would all play traditional middle eastern instruments to celebrate the fact that Jews have been a part of all these great societies (in many cases with no conflict what-so-ever) throughout history... and are part and parcel of the cultures and cultural traditions of these places. It would be a celebration of the connection that all people (regardless of race and religion) share when they come from and live in the same place together.

I think it is a really powerful idea. Instead of a philharmonic playing the music from Europe... to have an orchestra of people from all over the middle east, playing the music from the places they have also been a part of from the beginning of time. To celebrate and honor the cultures which they are a part of.

It is an idea of celebration and unity, rather than of division and conflict.

Orna and Yair have gotten quite good at playing their instruments. They love being a part of this effort. I wish them luck on their project. :)

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