Lucky me

Letter to FolkWorks re: Yuval Ron Ensemble concert

From Margot Dayel Eiser

Yuval Ron Concert - ensemble
Yuval Ron Ensemble - Photo by Eric Ahlberg.

When I got the flyer about FolkWorks presenting the Yuval Ron ensemble on May 31, 2014, in Santa Monica, I immediately wanted to go. Thanks to the generosity of Steve and Leda Shapiro donating tickets to KPFK and the wonderful synchronistic symmetry of ‘me’ calling in at just the right time to 'win' them, I got to share the experience with a friend. Despite traffic being clogged by an accident on the way, we got to Santa Monica from the 'Eastside' in good time.

This “Rose Garden of Peace” captivated me from the beginning. A warmer and richer tone than previous performances was apparent when to open, a saffron/maroon costumed dancer balancing a tray of lighted candles on her head glided down the center aisle to a Yiddish sounding melody, reminding me of a Havdalah ceremony. A Yemenite dance with a 'square tune'  (contradance musicians take note) featured percussion produced on a cooking oil can since women had ignored a ban on music and dancing and made it while in the kitchen.

Unlike other of Yuval Ron performances, many children including Yuval’s curly headed young son and his older daughter, a talented violinist who performed with the group on one of the numbers, contributed to the very friendly atmosphere which prevailed  throughout.  A lot of exercise was gained by the diverse audience/participants during ‘free for all dance in the aisles fest’ to the rousing tones of the Turkish reed trumpet and special drum. This ‘brought down the house’.

The familiar transcendent solemnity was evoked by the haunting Hebrew Ode to Light set to an Arabic tune. ‘Erev Shel Shoshaneme/Shalom/Salaam’ melding and a provocative ‘Yerushalim Shel Zahav’ caused me to say a heartfelt “AMEN”.  During one memorable melody the talented, flexible dancer seemed to transform herself into a shimmering, iridescent swirling mermaid.

So much more wonderful music and talent flowed from the six regular musicians (each with his or her own ‘fan following’) and the guest singer and accordionist, that it would take many more words to describe them.  All this preceded the finale, the world premiere of a new concept set to music by Yuval Ron, describing the seven pillars upon which peace on earth can be built. A book will be coming out soon to capture the stories Yuval Ron so engrossingly tells with his Israeli accent, about Hafiz of Shiraz, a famous Farsi poet and others and the connection of the concept of Sufism to many other cultures and to the present time. More details can be found at his website.

The tireless, much appreciated and valued devotion of Steve and Leda, the FolkWorks Board and the ‘tekkies’ and ‘roadies’ to the preservation and promotion of all forms of folk music and dance was well expressed in the marvelous participatory performance experienced by all.