Israel & Iran Sound Beyond Borders : Sari Gelim by Yuval Avital & Mohsen Mohammadi

It was February 2007, the opening of the major international music event in the Philippines, Rondalla Festival. All of the sudden, there was the flag of Iran followed by the flag of Israel in the opening ceremony hosted by the president of the Philippines.
Although unspoken rules force Iranians to pull out wherever they face an Israeli participant even in Olympics, and although the fear between the two societies is institutionalized by those who take advantage of that, we hugged the first moment and we enjoyed every single moment of staying in that festival. We still enjoy having such a fantastic friendship!
Avi Avital, Mohsen Mohammadi, Yuval Avital, Yizhar Karshon
Musicians from Israel and Iran meet in the Philippines, February 2007

Mohsen and I know each other since 2007. We enjoy a deep friendship and a mutual respect and dialogue through music. In the year 2010, we decided to perform together in Italy in a musical dialogue that contained both traditional music and innovation. We decided to conclude the concert with the traditional song “Sari Gelim”. It is a song which can be found in many versions all over West Central Asia; in many of its versions, it tells a sad story of love between a man and a woman that cannot be fulfilled because of difference of origin or faith between them.

In the recent years, I have met fantastic Iranians who shared with me the beauty of their culture and listened with great attention to the stories I told them about Israel and Judaism.

Sounds of violence, hatred and war can easily hide a sound of a guitar, a setar or a voice. Nonetheless, we as musicians stand in front of the news reports to share sounds beyond the borders of narrow perceptions of cultures and individuals.

Living in peace is not a choice of weakness but a choice of strength, disconnecting the endless chain of violence, predators and victims and creating a new chain of mutual respect and nourishment; of dialogue that extends our perception life and reality.

My love is not guaranteed to an individual thanks to his or her origins only but at the same time I don’t hate someone just because he or she was born on the other side of the fence. We dedicate this music, (accompanied with nested visuals in which I weaved Iran and Israel), to those who are not afraid to stop fearing each other, and choose to open their hearts and minds to whomever they were taught are enemies.

Yuval Avital & Mohsen Mohammadi

Sari Gelim (tradition Central-Asian),performed by Yuval Avital – Israel : Classic guitar & live electronics & Mohsen Mohammadi – Iran : Setar.

Excerpt from SYMBIOSYSONORE concert, at Cittadellarte – Pistoletto Foundation, Biella, Italy, December 2010.
Video by Yuval Avital.