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Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance plans rescheduled Governors Meeting

CM 19/05/2021 8

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 Make music, not war 

Oh, Jerusalem! You are a Complex city, baby, complex with a Capital ‘C.’ Not such a baby, either – your earliest signs of settlement started some 6,000 years ago, but your warm rough-hewn stones were not left to wrinkle peacefully through the centuries. 
You have been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, and attacked 52 times – maybe this week takes it up to 53. And yet your alleys ring perennially with music: church bells chime, muezzins chant through booming microphones, the sound of hazanut drifts from shuls dotted in every nook and cranny. 
And for 88 years the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance has been lovingly nourishing the creative talent of the city, teaching generations of pianists and cellists and a cappella singers and opera singers, jazz musicians and classical dancers… and everyone in between. JAMD, with its 2,000 students harmonizing in the high school, academy and conservatory, spreads the beat throughout the year with concerts and happenings and workshops and Zooms… and come each spring the city explodes (in a good way) with magical performances in stunning sites as the academy welcomes governors and guests for the annual Board of Governors meeting. 
Last year was no exception: a stellar line-up of visiting and local stars including world renowned cellist Mischa Maisky, jazz saxophonist Kenny Garrett, singer Yehoram Gaon, choreographer and author Dr. Ruth Eshel and poet Erez Biton were all ready to rock and roll through three gorgeous days in Israel’s eternal capital. Gala concerts and festive dinners were planned, with endless breakfasts and teas and brunches and picnic lunches to feed the body as the spirit soared. Private guided tours of the Tower of David Museum and the Museum of Islamic Art were on the schedule, with soulful concerts in each lovely setting. Music lovers from around the world were looking forward to meeting in a mythological place in an atmosphere that is utterly non-political and totally inclusive. 
“By February of 2020 we had 30 guests from abroad already signed up,” recalls Advocate Amina Harris, Chair of JAMD’s International Board of Governors. “They included three members of the House of Lords from London and their guests from South Africa, six Friends of JAMD from Brazil led by one of the governors, Babel Klabin, as well as governors from New York, Florida and London – a truly international event.” 
And then: COVID. 

“We watched the news of COVID with sinking hearts,” says Harris, “and then took advice from Lord Turnburg, an ex-president of the Royal College of Physicians and now a member of the House of Lords and a patron of JAMD.” 
Of course the decision to cancel was ultimately taken out of anyone’s hands as the world clamped shut: Israelis and Brits, Brazilians, Italians and the rest of the world listened to music solely from the comfort of their living room couches. 
Fast forward to spring 2021: Israel is reopening; Boris Johnson announced that Britain would open its borders to its citizens from May 17. UK patrons of JAMD assured the organizers that Jerusalem was their first destination; the slightly pared-down Board of Governors meeting was set for May 31 and June 1. Venues were booked, caterers chosen… and then the Israeli government banged closed the doors to non-Israeli passport holders before June 1. Even then only double vaccinated guests would be allowed; Maisky, one of the greatest cellists in the world today, who lives in Brussels and holds Israeli citizenship, has only one shot. 
“So,” says Harris, with a small sigh, “we decided to go ahead with the 88th International Board of Governors Meeting with the great support of our amazing Israeli governors and patrons.” Prof. Yinam Leef, president of JAMD, was committed to giving the academy’s wonderfully gifted student musicians of the Mendi Rodan symphony orchestra the chance to perform at the Henry Crown Hall of the Jerusalem Theater; nobody wanted to cancel shows for the second year running. 
So the bestowal of Honorary Fellow Awards upon Israel Literature and Poetry prize winner Erez Biton, Dr. Ruth Eshel and Yehoram Gaon was rescheduled, with Maestro Zubin Mehta and cellist Maisky slated to Zoom in to accept their awards and accolades. The Ades Synagogue of the Aleppo Jewry was booked for a performance of Piyuttim (Cantillations) of the East, and the Italian Synagogue rebooked to house a magical rendition of Jewish Madrigals of the Baroque period.
A jazz master class with internationally acclaimed jazz pianist Omri Mor was scheduled and the Museum of Islamic Art was also booked for the second time, with a private tour and performance of the Arab Music Ensemble. (In yet another COVID disruption, this very same ensemble was supposed to perform in February 2021 in St. John’s Smith Square in London, under the auspices of Lord Risby; Harris hopes this will still happen next year.)
Patrons and guests will be given a private tour of the Israel Museum, with some glorious music, and yet another yummy meal for those who still have the capacity. The festivities will wrap up with a gala concert at the Jerusalem Theater under the baton of conductors Prof. Stanley Sperber and Yuval Zorn, with the JAMD Symphony Orchestra playing works by A. Harlap, F. Mendelssohn and Bartholdy. 
Participation in this fun costs 1,250 shekels a day and will again obviously be fully refundable under present circumstances. And what circumstances they are: now there’s a war on, although, by the time this goes to print we will hopefully be back to peace. 
“Four star hotels in Jerusalem are still closed, or full of COVID quarantines,” adds Harris, “so accommodation is only at the ritzy King David or Orient Hotel.” But complimentary buses will bring guests from Tel Aviv each day and take them home; a mini-bus will fetch those staying overnight at the hotels. 
What else can the heavens throw at the city before the curtain rises on the BOG? A meteor? An alien invasion? 
Or maybe the Messiah will drop in on his city; JAMD will be standing by with bells and saxophones to greet him.  
For more details and to register please email: shir@jamd.ac.il
The writer lectures at IDC and Beit Berl. Peledpam@gmail.com

Source: Jerusalem Post

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