Idan Raichel’s Project

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Idan Raichel is the Israeli pop star who bids to go international with his recording The Idan Raichel Project. The biographical page of Idan’s site is here. Thanks to the efforts of host Fern Oppenheim, who apparently provided some key romantic advice to Idan when she toured Israel previously, Idan joined our tour group on the Tel Aviv beachfront boardwalk Wednesday night and gave us copies of the compact disc. Jon Pareles’s take on the recording in the New York Times perfectly captured my reaction:

The Idan Raichel Project was a huge hit in Israel for good reason: it envisions a modern, multicultural nation where voices of young and old, Ethiopian and Yemenite, are all heard in songs devoted to love and tolerance. Idan Raichel is the keyboardist, songwriter and producer behind the scenes, and he’s clearly as familiar with Peter Gabriel as with Middle Eastern traditions. His arrangements bind the voices together in somber minor-mode anthems paced by electronic beats, earnestly seeking to uplift.

Idan performed in Central Park this summer and told us that one of the journalists interviewing him during his visit asked him if he wasn’t ashamed to have served in Israel’s Army (where he continues to serve as a reservist). “No,” he said, “my country is at war. Do you expect me to abandon it and say it’s not my country?” Or something to that effect. As you can see in the photograph above (courtesy of Jim Hoft), I loved this guy.

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