Recording artist, composer, educator and peace activist Yuval Ron returns to Oregon for three days of concerts and a workshop in January. While he has performed in Ashland and the Eugene/Corvallis area in recent years, he says this will be his first return to Portland in nearly a decade. With his concerts around the world in synagogues, mosques, churches and secular venues, Yuval says he is a musical ambassador who tries to show points of light in the culture, history, traditions, music and dance of the three Abrahamic traditions.
“There is a continuity from Judaism to Christianity to Islam,” says Yuval. “I try to point out those connections. We are closer than we allow ourselves to acknowledge.”
He says he often performs both the Jewish prayer melody “Haleleu” and the Sufi Muslim melody it grew out of – “Allah hu” (God is). “I use this kind of song as a bridge between the communities. It helps open the door to go in,” says Yuval.
“Musicians have keys to locked doors,” adds the Israeli- born musician. “I try to use this privilege to promote peace.”
In this era of heightened extremism on both sides and escalating violence around the world, Yuval sees his work to build bridges as both more difficult and more important. He hopes his music helps promote understanding of commonalities, resulting in more moderates on both sides.
“We need to increase the amount of light, not darkness, in the world,” he says. “We are not nurturing a peaceful future for Israel and the West.”
A graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Yuval says when he returns to Israel he does see points of light. He sees hope for a more peaceful future in the many programs that bring Jewish and Arab youth together. He points to schools where students learn together, including the Hand in Hand schools cofounded by Portlander Lee Gordon. Yuval says he has given concerts at Hand in Hand schools and encouraged families in the nearby communities to enroll their children. He also points to the interfaith Jerusalem Youth Choir created by one of his students when he was a resident scholar at Yale. He says he encouraged Micah Hendler to go to Jerusalem, where Micah created the choir two years ago.
While studying other peoples’ culture and history are important, he says that intellectual learning alone has no power. But when youth and teens spend extended time together “they learn hidden lessons.”
During two years of rehearsals, recordings and international tours, Yuval says the youth learned to trust each other. “The kids learn there are kids just like them on the other side who have the right to live and be safe. … They learn there are good people on both sides.” He says his concerts and workshops similarly open minds to the connections between cultures. “What I am trying to do is develop dialogues so people learn,” says Yuval.
His workshops feature sacred music, chanting, movement and spiritual mindfulness practices from four ancient spiritual paths: Zen Buddhism, Kabbalistic Judaism, Early Contemplative Christianity and Sufi-Islam. Yuval’s last two visits to Portland were for concerts at Congregation Neveh Shalom, where he was invited to perform by the Conservative congregation’s former cantor Linda Shivers. This year his performance is in a secular venue, Euphoria Studios.
“I like to perform at universities and theaters,” he says. “It is a neutral venue. It invites everybody, even people who would not go to a church or synagogue. People who are not as progressive are very important for me. I like to start a dialogue.”
YUVAL RON IN OREGON
Mystical Music of the Middle East, an evening of Moroccan, Yemenite and Hebrew devotional music with Yuval Ron Trio 8 pm, Jan. 16, at Unitarian Fellowship, Fourth and C Streets, Ashland Tickets: stclairevents.com/20150115-Yuval-Ron-Trio.htm
Workshop with Yuval Ron Trio: Healing and Transforming Consciousness Through Sacred Sound, Music and Dance Experience introspective and ecstatic practices of four ancient spiritual paths: Zen Buddhism, Kabbalistic Judaism, Early Contemplative Christianity and Sufi-Islam.
10 am-noon, Jan. 17, at Unitarian Fellowship, Ashland Tickets: stclairevents.com/20150115-Yuval-Ron-Trio.htm
Yuval Ron Ensemble
7:30 pm, Jan. 17, at The Majestic Theatre 115 SW Second St., Corvallis Tickets: majestic.org
Yuval Ron Ensemble
An evening of Moroccan, Yemenite and Hebrew devotional music Featuring soulful Yemenite singer Maya Haddi David Reihs on percussion and special guest dancer Jane Archer
8 pm, Jan. 18, at Euphoria Studios, 1235 SE Division St., Portland Information and Tickets: firstname.lastname@example.org