Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    Is diplomacy worthwhile, even if the end result isn’t what we hoped for? That is the question, among many others, posed by the new play Oslo, by J.T. Rogers. Making its New York debut at Lincoln Center, the play examines the secret diplomatic process that led to the historic 1993 peace accords. The character of Shimon Peres makes an appearance onstage — and he, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, tower over the proceedings. But they mainly do so in absentia. Instead, […]

    Read more →
  • Spirituality/Tradition Sports Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    JNS.org – Other than being part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Sandy Koufax and Dean Kremer have something else in common: a respect for Jewish tradition. Koufax — who was recently ranked by ESPN as the best left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) history — decided not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because the game fell on Yom Kippur. “I would do the same,” Kremer said in an interview. Last month, the 20-year-old Kremer became […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    The famed lead guitarist of British rock band Queen, Brian May, encouraged Jewish singer-songwriter Adam Lambert to perform in Hebrew during their upcoming joint concert in Israel, an entertainment industry advocacy organization reported on Tuesday. During a recent interview with Israeli television personality Assi Azar, May was played a 2005 video of Lambert singing the popular song Shir L’Shalom, (Song for Peace). May was so impressed by Lambert’s singing of the Hebrew track that he told the American singer, “We have to do that. Let’s […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    JNS.org – Kenyan-born marathoner Lonah Chemtai is expected to compete for Israel at the Olympics Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil next month after gaining a last minute approval. “I am very proud [to represent Israel] and I hope to achieve a new personal best time,” Chemtai told Reuters. Chemtai, who grew up a rural village in western Kenya, first came to Israel in 2009 to care of the children of her country’s ambassador to Israel. The 27-year-old runner recently gained […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    To date or not to date? That is not the question for most Modern Orthodox singles in New York. The question is when will they find their future spouses, and when will their families stop nagging them about having babies? Inspired by the success of the Israeli show “Srugim,” Leah Gottfried, 25, decided she would create and star in her own show, “Soon By You.” “Dating is so serious already,” Gottfried said. “We wanted to take a lighter approach and laugh at the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israeli Actress Says Playing Muslim Character in ‘Tyrant’ Has Made Her More ‘Hopeful, Humble’

    Israeli Actress Says Playing Muslim Character in ‘Tyrant’ Has Made Her More ‘Hopeful, Humble’

    Israeli actress Moran Atias said that playing a Muslim woman in the hit FX series Tyrant has changed her outlook. “Educating myself about a different culture has made me more hopeful and humble, that we’re all the same,” the Jewish actress, 35, said during an interview with AOL Build. Atias plays Leila Al-Fayeed, the strong and politically minded wife of the president of Abbudin, a fictional Middle Eastern country run by a dictatorial family. The Israeli-born former model, who earned the title of Miss Globe International […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Jewish Fashionistas From Around the World to Tour ‘Chic Side of Israel’

    Jewish Fashionistas From Around the World to Tour ‘Chic Side of Israel’

    A delegation of 35 Jewish fashion industry mavens from around the world will travel to Israel later this month to “discover the chic side” of the country, 5 Town Jewish Times reported. The eight-day tour, organized by the Maryland-based Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) and the Israeli Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, will include visits to key fashion sites and meetings with some of the country’s top fashion designers, merchandisers and marketers. Participants will also attend a JWRP Fashion Week event in Tel Aviv. JWRP said the trip is […]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Granddaughter of Holocaust Survivors Honored to Represent Israel at 2016 Olympic Games

    Granddaughter of Holocaust Survivors Honored to Represent Israel at 2016 Olympic Games

    Pro golfer Laetitia Beck said she is honored to have been selected to represent Israel at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil largely because of her grandparents, who survived the Holocaust. “Everywhere I go, I want people to know where I’m from, my background and where my family came from because of the struggle they had to go through,” she told the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). “Every week when I play and I see the Israeli flag, it brings me a lot […]

    Read more →