Sunday, 30 October 2016

Israel and the Arts

Opera now
To most people, Israel and Opera are not two terms that you would associate in the same sentence, but Israel Opera has a fascinating programme lined up over the next two years. I admit, I am not a fan of the modern dance programmes, but it’s worth the visit if you’re in the area if only for the scenery.
Another great festival is the Red Sea Jazz Festival held in Eilat. As a long time jazz fan, this festival is another reason for me to visit the beautiful land that is Israel
Israel has a lot to offer, other than a visit to Jerusalem. Coming from a fishing family, I would love to go to the shores and watch the boats come in and see what different types of fish swim in the Meditarrean Sea. Living in the North of England and on the cold North Sea side of the country, we were used to cod and haddock. My romance e-book – A Sailor's Love – is dedicated to all the families, everywhere, who fish for a living. I like to think the story is a mix of the raw passions of Wuthering Heights, the mystery of The Flying Dutchman and the honesty seen in the opera Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten.
As I said in my other posts, any money from sales of my books is going to be sent to Israel, my way of fighting BDS is to buy goods from Israeli sites. I wish I could visit Israel, and purchase the products direct from the stalls; I love nothing better than wandering around a market and taking in the smells, sights, and sounds. As a writer, this image would give me ideas for many stories.
My late father got me interested in jazz. My taste is for the West Coast style of Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan. I am not a fan of the modern age of jazz, there are some good musicians, but the best jazz comes from the heart and through the pain of suffering, not because you can play music. Jazz has a soul.
I went to two Cheltenham International Jazz festivals in the UK; Cheltenham is the best known international festival going on. I tried to get tickets for the Scarborough festival, the only time I succeeded I had to cancel for family reasons. Tickets to Scarborough are usually sold many months before the September festival dates as the festival is the largest festival for British jazz music.
The first festival I went to was marvelous, it featured the late Ornette Coleman and his son Dante, the late UK saxophonist Steve Lacy and Jane Monheit. Madeleine Peyroux caused the biggest upset of the festival. She was given a gig at the prestigious Racecourse stadium, and after turning up over an hour late for her section, she turned to the audience and said: “I know Cheltenham is recognized  only for the Racing Festival.”
This comment shows how little Ms. Petroux knows about culture as Cheltenham has the finest girls school in the UK, next to Rodean. There is a thriving music scene in the town with festivals to suit all tasted from folk to early English music, many of the world’s best orchestras play at city hall too.
The following year was devoted to Norwegian jazz and featured the lovely Silje Neergard; the other thing I recall is a group called Speeq. For months before, I’d been listening to jazz on cd, and I looked forward to hearing the singer, Sidsel Endresen, but the group she was in was a total disaster. By the half-way mark of the set, there were more people on stage than listening to their music(?).
The year I almost got to Scarborough was the year after my first visit to Cheltenham, at the festival that year was Clare TealClaire Martin, Dave O’Higgins, Stan Tracey, Bobby Wellings and Andrea Vicari. The year I did return to Scarborough the festival – to visit not for the festival – the line-up wasn’t as popular.
The Red Sea Jazz Festival held in Eilat, Israel, is a festival that has come to my attention over the last few years with my involvement in Israeli charities. Such as United with IsraelIsrael TodayInternational Fellowship of Christians and JewsChristians United for Israel, and my blogging for The Times of Israel  http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/author/alan-place/.
The North Sea Festival has been going on for many years in the Dutch area of Congresgebouw, but ten years ago due to its popularity, the festival moved to its current location in Rotterdam. Many of the jazz greats like  Sarah Maughan, Dizzy Gillespie, and Stan Getz appeared there, although the festival these days is geared more to the progressive style of music.
No jazz list would be complete without a visit to the home of jazz – New Orleans – the roots of what we call jazz are embedded in the cultural background of the city. I would love to visit New Orleans for many other reasons than the festival, I love seafood and would like to sample the food available on the warmer shores.
The playing of Miles Davis has influenced my writing; there are no sounds more lonely than that of the lone trumpet, or a lone sax, playing. Mile’s playing on the soundtrack of Elevator to the Gallows is hauntingly beautiful and typical of the Noir style of film produced by Louis Malle, the most prominent film producer of the French New Wave era. The noir styling influenced my e-book Pat Canella the opening story in my Pat Canella trilogy. 

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