A new generation of Israeli artists explores the exciting and diverse musical traditions of this multicultural Middle Eastern country
Home to an already diverse and sometimes fractious population, with additional settlers arriving every day from Europe, the Americas, and Africa, modern Israel is one of the world’s most cosmopolitan, colorful and inclusive musical melting pots. As new arrivals have made their mark, centuries-old Hebrew and Arabic sources have been joined by African, American, and Caribbean grooves, along with cutting edge electronica and quotes from various urban art-song traditions. For example, other than the language, Rona Kenan and Gidi Gov’s “Ha’rikud Ha’muzar Shel Ha’lev,” with its waltz-like tempo and accordion-laced back-up, would sound completely at home in a Parisian café, as would Tea Packs’ “Vehapa’am Shir Ahava,” with its graceful vocal curlicues. “Srochim,” by revered folksinger David Broza, is redolent of the artist’s extended sojourns in Spain and the USA. Meanwhile, Hadas Dagul’s “Seret Eelem” reflects his homeland’s long-standing love affair with Brazilian bossa nova. Several artists are making an effort to work with and reach out to both established and emerging local communities. Amal Murkus, a Palestinian from Galilee, has incorporated age-old folkways into her mix, and Idan Raichel has established warm collaborative ties with immigrant musicians from Ethiopia, creating a polished, homegrown brand of pop. It’s astonishing that such a tiny nation could harbor so many voices. But isn’t this exactly as it should be? –Christina Roden
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