Rea Mochiach: 11th Century Poetry, 21st Century Music
ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question: What kind of musical instrument is the Kamanché, and where did it originate?
Israeli musicians Berry Sakharof and Rea Mochiach are very popular rock musicians in Israel. Several years ago they accepted an unusual challenge–to set to music the poetry of Shlomo Ibn Gabirol. Ibn Gabirol was the most outstanding Hebrew poet in 11th century Spain, and is still considered to be one of the greatest Hebrew writers of all time. The result of the project is the CD Adumei Hasefatot, Red Lips, whose title is taken from one of Ibn Gabirol’s poems. The music itself has elements of rock, jazz and folk, and uses instruments found in all of these genres.
As part of the activities to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Spain, Centro Sefarad-Israel and the Israeli Embassy organized three concerts, in Madrid, Cordoba and Gabirol’s native Malaga, at which Sakharov, Mochiach and their band performed songs from the CD. In Madrid, the concert took place on European Music Day, in the Plaza de Oriente, with the Royal Palace in the background. Several hundred people attended and by the end of the concert many were dancing in the aisles.
We spoke with Rea Mochiach about his own work, the CD, and the group’s plan to make a biographical film about Ibn Gabirol.