State Department’s Musical Diplomacy Reaches Israel and the Middle East

October 31, 2012 6:03 pm 0 comments

American quartet, The Boston Boys, performing live at Hebrew University last week.

The US Department of State and the Association of American Voices is facilitating a unique musical program called American Music Abroad. The program works to implement Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s vision of “smart power”diplomacy, which in this case is done through the tool of music. American Music Abroad features US musicians who play exclusively Americana music to audiences around the world. Building on the historical legacy of the Department of State’s Jazz Ambassadors, who first traveled around the world in the 1950s, this year’s program has featured a series of month-long multi-country exchange programs.

In October, the American quartet known as The Boston Boys from Boston, Massachusetts traveled to Morocco, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Cypress, to share their music and engage in cross-cultural communication.

In Israel, The Boston Boys performed in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, where the group also held a musical workshop for Israeli high school students. Playing everything from bluegrass, folk, and jazz, to modern pop, the quartet had a whirlwind five-week musical tour performing their music live and teaching youth across five countries.

“It’s basically a dream come true,” Duncan Wickel, a graduate of Boston’s Berklee College of Music, told Tazpit News Agency. “We always dreamed about being musicians as kids and this experience goes way beyond our expectations.”

For Wickel, 23, who plays both the fiddle and violin, it was his first trip to the Middle East. “What is special about this program is the educational aspects—holding musical workshops and connecting with people who understand the language of music, even if they don’t understand English,” he said.

“In addition, we get to experience the world and visit countries that we wouldn’t necessarily go to for vacation,” Wickel added.

“As musical ambassadors, we get to connect with people,” said Eric Robertson, 26, who plays the mandolin and is also a graduate of Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

“This has been a great opportunity for us to bond with people who aren’t familiar with American music or have never even experienced a live American concert. Some of the Israeli kids today, for example, had never seen a mandolin so it was fun explaining my instrument to them.” Robertson said.

“We are getting a lot more followers on our Facebook page thanks to this trip,” said Josh Hari, who plays bass. “It’s amazing to see that we have a growing fan base in the Middle East now, from as far away as Egypt and Morocco,” added drummer, Nicholas Falk.
In Jerusalem, the American Center and the United States Consulate hosted the The Boston Boys, who performed at several venues including Hebrew University, where more than 700 college students of all backgrounds– Jewish, Muslim and Christian–came to view the performance.

“This is great music,” said Harel, a recent graduate of Hebrew University. “I’d come to hear the Boston Boys perform here again.”

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    JNS.org – Less than five months after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to its sixth European basketball title, David Blatt, now the head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, routed his former team in an exhibition game on Sunday, with the Cavaliers dominating Maccabi 107-80 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The 20,562 fans in attendance witnessed Lebron James’s first appearance in a Cavaliers uniform since he left the club in free agency for the Miami Heat four years ago. [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz said on Wednesday that he will not eat anything between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday in observation of Yom Kippur, ESPN reported. “If I was playing, I wouldn’t fast, because I’ve got to be able to fuel myself to play,” said the Jewish athlete, who is on short-term leave due to a toe injury. “But it’s not that tough, really. I’ll eat dinner at 5:00 Friday, then I’ll go to services and I’ll just [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.