As part of its most diverse season ever, BlackRock Center for the Arts embraces that unique moment where current affairs and art intersect as the progressive Germantown venue brings the ATZILUT (also known as Middle East Peace Orchestra) to the Mainstage on Saturday, April 14 at 6:00 pm.
This show was originally scheduled for a November date but had to be postponed. It has been rescheduled for April 14.
This nine-member high-energy Middle Eastern ensemble, comprised of Arab and Jewish musicians, will hold one of their powerful “Concerts for Peace” as they continue their creative crusade for understanding and tolerance through music.
Co-led by Hebrew vocal specialist, Hazzan Jack Kessler and Arabic vocal specialist Maurice Chedid, ATZILUT is able to seamlessly blend the musical traditions of both cultures into what audiences call a “magical performance.” The unique musical fusion is the only international touring ensemble that features virtuoso instrumentalists equally proficient in the rhythms and inflections of both Hebrew and Arabic music.
Known as the Middle East Peace Orchestra in Europe, the group has frequently toured internationally, performing in countries like France, Austria, Germany, and the United States. The internationally renowned troupe was even given the opportunity to showcase one of their “Concerts for Peace” at the United Nations.
“What we’re doing isn’t exactly new, but it’s very important for our time, because of all the horrible things that have happened in the Middle East in the last 100 years,” said Hebrew vocalist Hazzan Jack Kessler. “What we try to do is not talk, and just do the thing itself, which is musicians working together, creating something beautiful.”
“There’s a jazzy, improvisational edge to what we do,” Kessler said, “there will be some material where people can just get up and dance, and then there is some material where audience participation is encouraged and invited.”
Kessler is one of the group’s two front-men, and outside of Atzilut, is a masterful cantor of over 20 years – a specialized member of the Jewish clergy who sings holy songs and leads synagogues in prayer. His Arabic vocalist counterpart is Maurice Chedid, a celebrated Lebanese singer, composer and virtuoso of the oud – a lute-like Middle Eastern stringed instrument.
“For all the conflicts that exist in the Middle East between Israel and its neighbors, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that these peoples have common roots that go back thousands of years,” said BlackRock Executive Director Alyona Ushe. “Atzilut brings that into focus and, without saying a word about it, delivers a powerful message for the peace that we can all find by emphasizing the things we have in common, rather than those that divide us.”
Out of a particular desire for this message to reach the youth, BlackRock is offering a special promotion in which tickets are free to all attendees under 18. Youth tickets can be reserved by contacting the BlackRock box office at 301-528-2260.
To purchase tickets go to the BlackRock Center's website.
BlackRock Center for the Arts is a cultural cornerstone and the leading venue for the performing and visual arts in Upper Montgomery County Maryland. Since 2002, the nonprofit arts center has been providing the community with diverse performing arts programs, free gallery exhibitions and arts education experiences in a welcoming and intimate setting close to home. The dynamic facility houses two art galleries, two theaters presenting more than 40 performances per year, and numerous classrooms and studios where year-round classes in the arts are offered for all ages.
Atzilut: A Concert for Peace
Saturday, April 14, 2019 at 6:00 pm
Photo courtesy BlackRock Center for the Arts.