Interview with Israeli Musician, Idan Raichel

August 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

“Bridging The Borders with 88 Keys (52 White and 36 Black)”

Israeli pianist/keyboardist, composer, producer, and vocalist, Idan Raichel, dreams of uniting nations by building bridges made out of 88 Keys across to Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine with the hopes of allowing world musicians the freedom to unite, join forces, and perform together without conflict, mistrust, and political red tape, while respecting one another’s cultural diversifications. The musician places importance on the fact that “the world will live in peace when there are no borders.”

The Idan Raichel Project is a collaboration of musicians, with culturally diverse backgrounds from all over the world, including Ethiopia, Sudan, South Africa, the Caribbean, Suriname, Uruguay, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen who bring their talents together to create world, folk, jazz fusion and overall, harmony to the stage, emphasizing that “there is no frontman, all the musicans unite together as a team.”  The Project consists of Cuban singer, Mayra Andrade,  Israeli singer, Maya Avraham, Anat Ben-Hamo, Shimon Buskila, Amir Dadon, Ilan Damti, Marta Gomez, and have performed with famed India Arie and Ziggy Marley.

While on an extensive, intense world tour, I was able to see the Idan Raichel Project perform live in 2 very different venues in New York City. The Edmond J. Safra Hall at “The Museum of Jewish Heritage” is a small, intimate 375-seat performance space for films, concerts, and lectures, with terrific acoustics and a respectful family oriented Israeli audience, while “Touch” offered more of a Tel Aviv nightclub feel for young American Jewish, Israeli, and Ethiopian 20-30 something professionals, who came out to support Sam Bodenheimer’s , “Spicerack Music”, and  PROJECT TESFA, (Amharic for “hope”) and /NACOEJ (The NorthAmerican Conference on Ethiopian Jewry).

Mr. Idan Raichel took time out of his busy schedule to conduct a 1:1 interview with me, to discuss his philosophies of life, music, politics, and the “Project”.

SA:  How did you get involved with TESFA/NACOEJ?

IR: “I received a phone call in Tel Aviv from Bodi, Sam Bodenheimer, saying that he wanted to meet with me.  I knew his name.  I met him at my house in Tel Aviv and he asked me if we would perform at a benefit in New York. We checked our schedule and made it happen.”

SA:  What has been your most rewarding experience?

IR: “SACH, Save A Child’sHeart organization is an Israeli-based international humanitarian project, whose mission is to improve the quality of pediatric care for children from developing countries who suffer from heart disease. SACH believes that every child deserves the best medical treatment regardless of the child’s nationality, religion, color, or finances.

SACH provides life saving cardiac surgery for children from developing countries to the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel.  SACH also provides pre-op and follow up cardiology clinics in Israel and abroad, and leading surgical and teaching missions to partner countries in the developing world.”

We also raise money for scholarships for Ethiopian children to attend University in Tel Aviv.”

SA: What is your philosophy on music, art, religion and politics?

IR: “I would like artists from both sides of the region, Israel/Palestine, to be allowed more exposure, to be able to perform in both regions freely. I would like to give modern dance companies the opportunity to perform outside of their region, and show others the reality of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.  They would be able to perform in Lebanon and Syria and vice versa.  We would create a bridge.  For people to live across from one another as neighbors and not as enemies.”

SA:   You were depressed in your early 20’s which influenced your music. Now that you are in your 30’s, how has your life/music changed?

IR: “Well, I have become a producer for the band since then. I am writing my own music.  It has been a great honor and challenge for me to travel.  I enjoy creating music whether it be recording a new album, or performing live,  it is like giving birth, creating a new life.”

SA: What are some of the challenges you have faced?

IR:  “Performing all over the world in our own native language with new artists has been challenging. It is important to change bands and musicians. I get inspired from new artists. I adore it.  Even though they have their own style, I enjoy leaving all ego aside and performing together.”

SA:  What are your goals for the project?

IR:  “I would enjoy to perform for larger audiences, and to perform with more and more artists. We recently played with India Arie,  at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, a Living Memorial to the Holocaust, which was fantastic.”

SA: If you could perform with 3 musicians living or deceased, who would they be?

IR: 1. Bach,  2. Bob Marley,  and 3. John Lennon.

SA: Could you offer any advice to young musicians starting off their career?

IR: “ Do it  in your own way.  Even if you fail, you can say you didit your own way.”

Upcoming concerts can be seen worldwide in the following cities: Montevideo, Santiago, Buenos Aires Rio deJaneiro, Bahia, Sao Paulo, Israel, and Canada.

Idan Raichel is the angelic leader that Israel needs to help build bridges of peace, tolerance, and respect. God Bless!!!

Profound lyrics:

“Come give me your hand and let’s go.

Don’t ask me to where.  Don’t ask me about happiness, maybe it will come too, and when it comes it will fall down on us like rain.”

“When you wake in the morning without a dream to fulfill, you can stay in bed, you can go out into the world. You can stay in bed and dream of far away places, and you can go to far away places, only to want to return to bed.”

“All song, all words, come and dance, with the sound the wind makes when approaching your mouth and your skin, look at me for an instant, touch this silence that is ending, and embrace the air turning into sky.”

“The waters of your life, washed in current, that begins with the first rain, flowing water of the river, these are the streams of water that will reach an anguished desert, with the falling silence, even if I drink the entire ocean, it will not quench my thirst.”

-Article by Sharon M. Abella

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