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 Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    “Girls” creator Lena Dunham responded on Tuesday to charges of antisemitism over an article she had penned for the New Yorker, saying it was all in good humor. Speaking to Variety, Dunham reflected on her “tight-knit Jewish family, where Jew jokes were part of the essential fiber of our communication.” The article Dunham referred to was called “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz,” with options such as “He doesn’t Tip” and “He’s Crazy for Cream Cheese.” Among Dunham’s critics, Anti-Defamation [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Retired NBA player Keyon Dooling tweeted a link on Wednesday to a wildly antisemitic article that accuses Jews of seizing control of the world’s media and using it to promote their own interests. The article, published by an obscure blog in April 2013, highlights six companies it claims are owned by Jews — such as Time Warner, Inc. and the Walt Disney Company – that allegedly “control 96 percent of the world’s media.”  The post includes allegations of “Jewish control” and says [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz responded to an outcry from Jewish fans on Tuesday, saying he will go ahead and play in the season opener despite the fact that it falls on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. “Keep getting tweets about that being the first night of Rosh Hashanah… Don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. It’s a tough break,” the Jewish athlete wrote, referring to the Giants’ on-the-road game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    JNS.org – When David Blatt was hired as head coach of the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers last June, he was not often recognized when he walked the streets of downtown Cleveland. What a difference a year makes. Now, Blatt can go few places without being recognized. For good reason. The Jewish coach has the Cavaliers in the mix to win the city of Cleveland’s first championship in a major sport since the Browns won the National Football League title in [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    A Hebrew tattoo sported by Croatian soccer star Mario Mandzukic became an internet sensation in Israel after it was exposed on Tuesday during a Champions League match between Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid A first glance, the tattoo, on the athlete’s back, might leave one with the impression that it was an unfortunate artistic mistake, since the Hebrew letters do not make sense as they are written. However, a closer look at the tattoo shows that it was actually written [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    For the past two years, I have served as Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner. I’m perhaps most proud of the paper’s commitment to publishing diverse and opposing viewpoints on the controversial issues of the day. We pride ourselves on voicing different opinions because we know that most issues are not black and white, and because our community is better served by a public debate. In my life outside of the paper, I am a professional actor and playwright. And similarly, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Sports Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    JNS.org – For Daphna Krupp, her daily workout (excluding Shabbat) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC or “J”) of Greater Baltimore has become somewhat of a ritual. She not only attends fitness classes but also engages with the instructors and plugs the J’s social programs on her personal Facebook page. “It’s the gym and the environment,” says Krupp. “It’s a great social network.” Krupp, who lives in Pikesville, Md., is one of an estimated 1 million American Jewish members of more [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.