Jewish and Arab Musicians Unite in a 'Concert for Peace'

Apr 5, 2016

The Jewish Community Center is hosting a "Concert for Peace" tonight featuring Israeli Jewish oud and violin virtuoso Yair Dalal and accomplished Israeli Arab guitarist and singer Mira Awad. Both Dalal and Awad are no strangers to musical partnerships, having worked with a myriad of musicians from around the world. This concert in Milwaukee will feature the two musicians in both combined and solo sets.

JCC Judaic Education Director Jody Hirsh says that the idea for the upcoming concert germinated on an arts trip the center had arranged in Israel to explore the Israeli arts scene. One of the events that the group had planned was a private concert with Dalal, which Hirsh describes as "an amazing experience." Dalal has Iraqi roots who was "trained as a kid on classical violin," says Hirsh. But since his family had come to Israel from Iraq about a year before he was born, he began to explore middle eastern music and took up the oud, becoming "one of the best known oud players in the world."

The group asked Dalal to keep them informed of when he would be in the United States, and it turns out that he was doing a joint concert with Awad in Boston this spring, and so the community group asked them to come to Milwaukee.

The two musicians come from different backgrounds and are unified in their desire to foster understanding through music, says Hirsh. "I think if you ask [Dalal and Awad] they would say that culture is the important tool to facilitate communication, because what the world needs is people of varying cultures to really communicate with each other and learn about each other's cultures. Because  how can you even argue with them if you don't know where they are coming from?"

Hirsh says that he wants concert goers to first and foremost have a fulfilling artistic experience when attending the concert and seeing these "world class musicians."

Secondly, he says, he wants the concert to foster understanding. "There's so many stereotypes about Arabs and Jews never being able to work together, and I really want to break that stereotype. Because there are Arabs, and there are Jews, who passionately want to create a different world, and I think we need to be more aware of them."