Yair Dalal: A Concert to Remember

 Yair Dalal 1


The oud is a string instrument whose notes have permeated Middle Eastern music since the Middle Ages. Like Jerusalem, it is both historic and modern. The Oud Festival, held annually in Jerusalem, brings together some of Israel’s best oud talent, as well as musicians from around the world, to join together in a musical celebration of the instrument’s history, as well as to engage in cultural collaboration and explore new ways of creating oud music. Because of the diversity of the artists who perform at the Oud Festival, as well as the plethora of musical traditions that the oud is a part of, the festival has become a symbol for Jerusalem as a multicultural city of the arts, and creates opportunities for both local residents and visitors to enjoy different types of music that they might not otherwise be exposed to.


That diversity was certainly on display during the concert celebrating 20 years since the release of internationally-acclaimed oudist Yair Dalal’s album, “Al Ol”. The concert incorporated instruments from around the world, including the sitar, cello, guitar and darbuka, leading to a melodic mélange of both the Western and the Eastern music traditions. Dalal showed off his oud and violin playing talent, but also gave each musician a chance to shine, making room for notable moments of sitar, percussion, wind, and electric guitar. Many pieces started off as oud solos, slowly adding each instrument, one at a time, allowing the music to crescendo, and highlighting how each instrument contributed to the piece at hand.


Yair Dalal 2


The concert’s most exuberant moments, however, came not from the instruments, but from the ecstatic voice of guest star Shlomo Bar, who danced as he drummed and sang a quote from Psalms about the joys of the man who has not walked in evil ways. The audience enthusiastically clapped and sang along, as they did when Yair Dalal sang his song “The Spice Route”, an ode to dessert winds and night-time longings. The concert also featured guest star Halayl Al-Awawi, from the Azazmeh tribe, who sang traditional tunes and played the shababa, a traditional Bedouin flute.


Dalal closed the concert by dedicating the final song to two cities: Jerusalem and Paris. The song he chose was an Arabic song whose chorus, “a time of peace”, resonated with everyone in the room, as both audience members and musicians sang along. The audience was still clapping for an encore when the concert hall turned the lights on, signaling to both performers and audience members that it was time to go. Right before walking off stage, all of the musicians came together for a group hug, a powerful reminder of music’s power to bring together people from different walks of life, and a symbol of the cross-cultural connections that had permeated the evening like the dessert wind that inspired so many of Dalal’s melodies.