Jewish-Arab Dialogue through Music
Hostilities in the Middle East today obscure the fact that for millennia, Jews coexisted with their Arab neighbors throughout the region, in North Africa, and in Muslim Spain. Through the visionary lens of acclaimed musician and composer Yoel Ben-Simhon, who is an Israeli born of Moroccan parentage, students can begin to see the synthesis of Jewish and Arab cultures and explore new avenues for cross-cultural dialogue. Ben-Simhon has committed himself to researching the relationship between Jewish and Arab music, and he holds a BA and MA in music performance and composition. Through interactive performances and personal narrative, he introduces students to the multicultural Middle East, its musical legacy, and a positive vision of the future.
Yoel offers several educational formats that can be tailored to each school's particular needs:
1. Lecture/master class- (for music students) on Arab music and it¹s historical/cultural development since 2nd century Persia till today. Topics will include- maqam theory (Arab modes and it's 1/4 tone system), rhythmic patterns, forms, composition techniques, and taqsim (improvisation). Students will learn how to play several maqams, rhythmic patterns and songs.
2. Performance/discussion- on the connection between Jewish and Arabic music since the 2th century Persia till today, with special focus on the Golden Age, 9-15 century- Andalusia/Spain.
3. Assembly and open-school night performances- during which Yoel discusses the songs, followed by a talk-back with the audience. Yoel can perform solo, duo, trio, or full band.
4. Yoel can join Middle Eastern or Jewish history classes to perform and discuss the roots of the music within an historical framework.
5. For campuses experiencing tensions between Jewish, Arab, and Muslim students, Yoel performs and discusses his personal story as an Arab Jew living in Israel. Through a dialogues with one of his Arab-Muslim band member, he shows how they navigate their working relationship and friendship, despite political tensions in the Middle East.
back to teaching