Hafarot Seder Festival 2005
July 16, 2005
In the Israeli discourse the term Hafarot Seder, disorders in Hebrew, is associated with state spokesmen during the first Palestinian uprising, the Intifadah. These spokesmen used this term in their newspeak in order to de-legitimize the Palestinian right to oppose the brutal Israeli Occupation, the so-called legitimate order, that robbed their freedom and human rights. The organizer and visionary of the Hafarot Seder festival, Ilan Volkov, chief conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, made ironic usage of that loaded term by blurring the conservative and artificial definitions of musical genres. Volkov enlisted 60 musicians all volunteering of the Israeli Free Jazz, new music, improvised music and the Russian immigrants' avant-garde scenes; arranging a clever program that encountered and inspired performers from different disciplines. The festival took place in the cultural center of the former Israeli Communist Party, now a haven for experimental musicians in Tel Aviv, Hagada Ha'Smalit (The Left Bank in Hebrew).
Maya Dunietz's Giv'ol Choir opened the night, singing a so-called hymn on the stairs, while the hall's door was still closed, and then marching ceremoniously into the room. The choir alternates between tightly-arranged nonsensical gibberish songs done with utter seriousness, and playful versions of familiar compositions such as Bela Bartok's "Hungarian Folk Song." The audience who packed this small hall enjoyed participating in the choir games, and obediently followed the choir's instructions to cover their ears and then their eyes during Yoni Silver's composition, "Ha!"
Vocal artist Anat Pik demonstrated her total command of her voice in a humoristic version of the electroacoustic composition by Menachem Tzur, "The Composer's Shoes," and even more in her brilliant performance of her own short composition, "Con-dem-ne-de." Like fellow vocal artists such as Dutch Jaap Blonk or Japanese Koichi Makigami, her acrobatic and amusing usage of language focuses on the primary experience of vocalizing, marvelling on the endless expressions of the human voice.
Volkov arranged that bass clarinetist Yoni Silver would follow, first performing a recent solo composition by Lutz Glandien, an associate of Chris Cutler of the legendary progressive English band Henry Cow, that evolved into a free improv duet with pianist Daniel Sarid,ending in an inspired solo performance of Mauricio Kagel's composition for bass clarinet, "Schattenklänge (Shadow Sounds)." Silver has a gentle, breathy tone on the bass clarinet that can lure you into these new and challenging compositions.
Soprano saxophonist Ariel Shiboleth demonstrated the quantum leap that he has made as a solo improviser since recording his first solo sax disc, Metal Tube & Consciousness (Leo, 2004). Shiboleth left behind ethereal and cerebral excercises in favor of a more substantial and condensed sound, ascending along serpentine lines, and by using circular breathing he managed to play between a multitude of sometimes conflicting lines, stressing cathartic eruptions, ironic comments, childish voicings, whispering through the mouth piece, all done with great passion and imagination. The audience needed a few seconds to fully grasp this total experience before applauding Shiboleth.
Mechaniqe(s) Duo, featuring Hans Tammen on "endangered" guitar and lap-top and Daphna Naphtali on vocals and lap-top, came from New York, triggering their sound sources from Tammen's "endangered" guitar, laid on a table with the strings manipulated and mutilated with sticks, straps and other objects, then with real time processing on his and Napthali's interacting lap tops. Tammen opts for more minimal sounds that only loosely reference a conventional guitar sound and more often sounds like a distant relative of the Japanese koto; while Naphtali deconstructs these sounds into more detailed ones, pushing them into abstract and noisy realms, then layering her four-octave range vocals on top.
The festival ended with the thick Balkan grooves of saxophonist Eyal Talmudi's band Pezz, with the audience asking Volkov to begin organizing a future edition of this stimulating festival.