Earlier this month, the Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival presented a week-long program of musicians from around the world exploring the spiritual power of music both ancient and contemporary.
Staged at historically significant venues throughout the city, highlights included Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead premiering his world music project Junoon with a Sufi ensemble from India, as well as a super group of masters of the Maqam, a traditional genre of sacred music from the Middle East.
As an Angeleno visiting Israel for the first time, the trip was an entirely unique way to experience a complicated region through the lens of music and culture.
Jerusalem holds some of the most important historic sites for Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and the city is charged with the energy of it’s own religious significance. I was constantly reminded of people’s absolute devotion to God, and the uneasy coexistence between ideologies.
In that respect, a music festival set in the holy land that embraces different spiritual traditions plays a special role in bringing people together for a greater understanding.
While the programming of The Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival doesn’t feature much in the way of familiar names from the West, the opportunity to hear something exotic and mysterious performed at an ancient amphitheater, climb the Tower Of David between performances, or get lost wandering the streets of the Old City makes this festival an unforgettable week.
— Jason Bentley