Like previous Festivals, the 2008 Jerusalem International Oud Festival serves as a meeting place between Middle Eastern and other cultures, emphasizing the similarities and differences between them. This year’s Festival travels to Egypt and Iraq, Turkey, Greece and Italy, and for the first time, to Rajasthan in northern India.
It even penetrates the depths of history-to the ancient music of several Jewish communities, from the traditions of Aleppo to those of Persia, nearly forgotten and here given new life on stage; to the days of the Golden Age of Spain and to the meeting between the Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures, which contributed so extensively to large parts of modern culture; to the forgotten traditions of the troubadours of Anatolia; and to the mysticism of Sufism.
The 2008 Jerusalem International Oud Festival continues many of the important traditions of past Festivals: a series of concerts in tribute to the great artists and composers of the Arab world that this year includes a tribute to Abd al-Halim Hafez; and the songs of beloved artists from around the Arab world, from Fairuz and Um Kalthum to Abd al-Wahab and Nazim al-Ghazali. The opening concert of the Festival also continues a tradition: a tribute to Rabbi Yehuda Halevi sung and composed by Etti Ankri, part of a series of performances that will continue in the future, constituting a tribute by contemporary Israeli rock artists to the poets of the Golden Age.
A special emphasis at this year’s Festival will be placed on female artists. Together with a tribute to the three great female vocalists Layla Mourad, Asmahan and Um Kalthum, the Festival will present an assortment of fine contemporary performers: Etti Ankri, Charlette Shulamit Ottolenghi, Maureen Nehedar, Dalal Abu Amneh and Violet Salameh. There will also be a special evening marking the publication of an anthology dealing with the tremendous revolution underway in recent years, affecting the status, the roles and the public voice of women in the Arab world.”