We’ve been wonderfully and graciously hosted by Rahel, who successfully navigated us through recovery of our luggage (which did not make the changeover in Newark) and acquired our tickets for an amazing show of the Seventh Annual Oud Festival. The Artistic Director of the Festival, Effie Benaya, describes the Festival’s original and persistent goal “to give expression to and provide a stage for a glorious Arab musical culture.” The show we saw, Modern Sufi Song and Dance, was a spectacular welcome to Jerusalem. The program book includes letters from several dignitaries, including this wish from the Israeli Minister of Science, Culture and Sport:
“…by the tenth Festival [may we] host and exchange oud artistis and Arab vocalists from a Palestinian state, Egypt, and Jordan, in Damascas and perhaps even in Baghad.”
I commented that such an accomplishment – three years from now – is quite ambitious. Rahel responded, “We are hopeful.”
The Mayor of Jerusalem describes the music of the oud “as one of the most pleasant and melodious instruments,” like “perfume in the ears.” Yes, and Muhamed Alnuma’s voice and skillful playing were amazing. The show, however, was all Danielle Alter. She interpreted the sounds of the oud along with the vocal intonations and lyrics into fluid, sensuous, expressive motion. Who knew a body could move with such evocative grace?
The applause was so rousing and extended that the performers returned for a last song. Alnuma introduced it thus:
. . . and all the rest.”
Both artists also contributed at the recent Sha’ar International Poetry Festival for New Hebrew and Arabic Poetry.