Sarah Orlik, Lafayette, CA; Section 3 chanicha
In coming out of the desert and moving to Jerusalem, I knew that music would have a much stronger presence in my life. As much peace and quiet as Arad had to offer, I was more than looking forward to enhanced opportunities to get out there and really see what Israeli music is about. And I have. I’ve tried my best to become a part of city music as an audience member, a student and a performer.
In my experience, a musical atmosphere can be made or broken by a social environment. When I first began to venture into the unknown territory of Jerusalem music, any uncertainty I had about how new participants would be received was easily erased. When a few of us decided to play a set of three songs at an open mic night, one of which was an original song of mine, we were pleased to be met with a welcoming, easygoing crowd and fun environment. Even simply walking down Ben Yehuda Street or through the shuk, it’s common to spot someone eager to share their music and for the most part they are warmly received by the community. Needless to say, I have been pleased to discover several avenues through which to easily become a part of musical Jerusalem.
Aware of the amazing musical culture of Jerusalem, Year Course itself has provided programming with Israeli musicians. Justin, our madrich, was able to get in touch with the owner of what used to be one of the most unique spots in Jerusalem before it closed several months ago. The space is home to an impressive and expansive collection of Djembe drums and our section had the opportunity to take part in a workshop with its owner. Musically, it was very different from what most anyone had experienced before. Looking around the room, I could tell the workshop reached even those who had never picked up an instrument before. After several drum exercises, sessions of jamming with the group, and a performance from our host, we hung around together in a setting that was a huge break from the average Year Course nightlife routine.
Although it’s been a real thrill to partake in the musicality of Jerusalem by performing and jamming with fellow Year Coursers, I would have to say that I’ve gotten much more out of my experience from the other side of the stage. Some friends and I have made it a weekly ritual to attend a free jazz night at a local club. The few shows I’ve experienced at this venue have allowed me to experience amazing local and not so local talent that oftentimes showcases the amazing variety of cultural influence in Jerusalem. This past week we saw a band from Romania who had never played in Jerusalem before and the week prior, a band with a stunning Ethiopian singer accompanied by Haredi band members. And if we have the energy, Monday nights present a techno party in the downtown shuk. I’ve had more fun dancing alongside the variety of hip and religious Jerusalemites in the shuk than I have at most of the clubs I’ve experienced so far in Israel. So much of the energy that Jerusalem contains is expressed through its musical community. I’m sad to be leaving this city where I never know what event of concert will present itself next, but I couldn’t be more pleased with how I’ve spent my time here so far.
- Inside Israel