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THE ISRAELI ANDALUSIAN ORCHESTRA ASHDOD: SPREADS ITS WINGS WITH ESTER RADA

"People often ask me what Andalusian music is,” says Yaakov Ben Simon, “to which I have two very different explanations: one short, one long. In short, it is like the Philharmonic Orchestra, except happier.”

 

His long explanation dates back to 8th-century Spain during the Muslim regime (otherwise known as the Andalus era). It was a period of cultural prosperity that profited from many talented artists, one of which was an exceptional musician who composed 24 classical works (‘noubas’) – one for every hour of the day.

 

Not only did Andalusian music emerge from a period of cultural prosperity, Ben Simon explains, “more importantly, this music was established by a community focused on the values of tolerance, of dialogue and of coexistence.”



These are the values that Ben Simon works daily to translate to the Israeli Andalusian Orchestra – Ashdod when carrying out his role as artistic director. For instance, he promotes dialogue through the composition of musicians within his orchestra; a mix of aurally trained North African musicians and classically trained local musicians accustomed to a more Westernized sight-reading approach learn to work side by side to achieve harmony. North African influence has dominated Andalusian music ever since the expulsion of Jews from Spain, when the original noubas were carried by immigrants to Europe, the Balkans, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and especially Morocco. The Muslim migration was not far behind. 

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