The Idan Raichel Project
In 2003, an unusual song aired on Israeli radio. With its haunting chorus in the Ethiopian language of Amharic and a global fusion sound, "Bo'ee" became an instant crossover hit that catapulted The Idan Raichel Project to the top of Israel's pop charts. The song turned a young dreadlocked keyboardist and producer into a household name in his native land. Soon, The Idan Raichel Project became known around the world for its cross-cultural collaborations. Since the release of their first international album, The Idan Raichel Project has represented a hope that artistic collaboration can break down barriers between different backgrounds and beliefs.
Idan Raichel, the architect of this unique project, is a keyboardist, producer, and composer. He started playing the accordion (which he likes to call "the uncoolest instrument ever") when he was nine. Even at this early age he was attracted to Gypsy music and tango.
As a young man, Idan became a successful recording session musician for popular singers. After helping others, Idan began a project that reflected his own musical ideals in a studio he set up in the basement of his parent's home near Tel Aviv....
Idan had long been fascinated with the diversity of Israel and sought to celebrate his appreciation and respect for different cultures through his music. Because of its open door to immigrants from Jewish communities around the globe, Israel is home to a stew of cultures and traditions, including Jews of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Latin American, Eastern European, and African roots. There is also a large Arab community, almost 20% of the population of Israel. The music of the Idan Raichel Project draws on all these traditions.
Idan saw the project as a collaboration between artists who each bring their own musical culture and talents to the stage. "There would be no front man," Idan says. "I would sit at the side and watch things and see what occurs. Every song would have a different singer, we would sit in a half circle and each musician would have a chance to demonstrate what they have to offer." The live show brings together people of different backgrounds, each equal to the other.
This sentiment is reflected in the decision to name the collective The Idan Raichel Project. Says Raichel, "If I had called the album just 'Idan Raichel,' people would have thought that Raichel is the main voice on all the songs. I wrote the songs and I arranged and produced them, but I perform them together with other vocalists and musicians. On the other hand, we are not a group. It's something in between." To date over 95 different singers aged 16 to 91 years old from dozens of different countries and cultural backgrounds have participated in the Project's recordings or performances.
The Idan Raichel Project's latest album, Quarter to Six, was released in spring 2013. It offers a transcontinental mix of different musical streams. The album features guest appearances by Portuguese fado star Ana Moura, Palestinian-Israeli singer Mira Awad, German countertenor Andreas Scholl, Colombia's Marta Gómez, Mali's Vieux Farka Touré, and a selection of some of Israel's top up-and-coming singers and musicians.
The Project's spectacular live show has enchanted audiences worldwide. They have headlined in some of the world's most prestigious venues, including New York's Central Park Summer Stage, the Apollo Theater, Radio City Music Hall, Los Angeles's Kodak Theater, the Sydney Opera House, Le Zénith and Le Bataclan in Paris, London's Royal Albert Hall, and many international festivals.
The Idan Raichel Project's October 12, 2013 concert with CIIS Public Programs & Performances is part of their extensive North American tour.
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Nourse Theater, San Francisco
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Featured photo by Eldad Rafaeli
This event is sponsored in part by a grant from the