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Idan Raichel's Musical Roots Journey

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Tuesday February 20, 2018

From The Jewish Week Media Group

Idan Raichel’s Musical Roots Journey: A Q&A with Israel’s crossover king, who plays the Beacon this week
By: Orli Santo

Merging East and West, modern and traditional, Jewish and Muslim, pop/world music icon Idan Raichel is one of Israel’s best-known cultural exports. His Idan Raichel Project, a 2002 collaboration of some 95 musicians from diverse cultural backgrounds, was among the first and most far-reaching attempts to bring Israel’s various and often warring ethnic components together in song. After producing nine sprawling collaborative albums to date, all of them international hits, Raichel’s most recent release, “At the Edge of the Beginning” (Cumbancha) is a solo piano effort in Hebrew. He will perform excerpts from the album Wednesday, Feb. 21, at the Beacon Theater. The Jewish Week caught up with him by phone this week while he was on the road in Israel.

You are known as a musical ambassador of sorts: a man whose music bridges between cultures, ones that are often estranged or even hostile, both within Israel and without. Can you think of a moment in your career when you felt it — that right now, a new connection is being forged through your work?

I can think of a few. In one performance in the U.S., an ambassador of a foreign state — one with no diplomatic relations with Israel, and no chance of them in the foreseeable future — came to see me backstage. He came in an informal capacity, saying that he had heard of the Project as something that encapsulates Israel’s soundtrack, and was curious to know what that sounded like. Of course, we didn’t take pictures together and the meeting was clandestine, but we kept in touch for years later.

On the musical level, there were all kinds of collaborations — like with Ali Amr, from Ramallah, a musician that today can’t even cross over to play in Tel Aviv.

Read the rest of the interview with Idan Raichel here