Kennedy Center to Host Israeli Global Jazz Duo talYtali

By 
Liz Lupton
April 25, 2014
talYtali will perform with Layth Sidiq and Naseem Alatrash at the Kennedy Center on April 26, 2012.
courtesy the artist

Berklee College of Music presents Israeli duo talYtali, otherwise known as pianist and vocalist Tal Even-Tzur and recorder player Tali Rubinstein, in a program of Israeli-influenced jazz at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, April 26. Hailing from Israel, Even-Tzur and Rubinstein will share the stage with special guests, violinist Layth Sidiq, born in Iraq and now hailing from Jordan, and Palestinian cellist Naseem Alatrash, to augment their unique sound. The concert is part of the Kennedy Center's Conservatory Project, a showcase for outstanding students from America's finest music colleges and conservatories. 

Even-Tzur and Rubinstein’s music, heavily inspired by Israeli traditional songs as well as their classical music education, is complex yet accessible; their strong rhythms are juxtaposed by simple, beautiful melodies. talYtali’s first album, an eponymous collection of their music set to be released later this spring, was produced by multiple Grammy Award-winning Spanish producer and artistic director of the college’s Mediterranean Music Institute Javier Limón, whose latest album includes arrangements and performances by Even-Tzur and Rubinstein. Having recently returned from a tour in Spain, talYtali will perform a series of concerts with the Andalusian Orchestra in November 2014.

“talYtali plays the most beautiful music I’ve listened to in a lot of years,” said Limón. “They have deep roots and they dig really deep into the essence of the music. The harmony, the melodies are very special, and the piano and the recorder together is something totally different. In today’s music industry, we need different things, new things, far away from the normal production or bands to which we are used to listening.”

Audiences can catch talYtali’s free performance on April 26, at 6:00 p.m., in the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, located at 2700 F Street NW, Washington, D.C. Because admission is free, early arrival is encouraged. The performance will be webcast live at Kennedy-Center.org, where past Berklee performances are also archived.

This is the 11th season of the Conservatory Project. Since the project’s inception, Berklee students have presented jazz, country, salsa, bluegrass, folk/rock, an improvising string orchestra, flamenco, and now Middle Eastern fusion.

After graduating from the music department at Ben-Zvi High School, pianist Tal Even-Tzur began studying at the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, where she learned from some of Israel’s finest musicians, like Alon Yavnai, Rami Levin, Ilan Mochiach, Erez Barnoy, Mamelo Orpheus Giatanopolos, and more. In 2011 she received a scholarship to attend Berklee, where she was awarded the Technics Endowed Scholarship for Outstanding Achievement. At Berklee, Tal studied with prominent musicians, such as JoAnn Brackeen, Alain Mallet, Nando Michelin, and Greg Osby. Even-Tzur graduated with honors in May 2013 and currently performs across the globe with different artists.

Trained in both classical and jazz recorder, Tali Rubinstein graduated with honors from prestigious Israeli music institutions Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts, the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, where she completed her B. Mus. Rubinstein received scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and was chosen as the foundation’s featured artist of the week in May 2013. In April 2013, she performed with the Rimon Jazz Institute as a guest artist on its U.S. tour, alongside jazz clarinet virtuoso Anat Cohen '98. Later that year, she performed and collaborated with multiple Grammy Award-winner Alejandro Sanz at the 14th annual Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas.

The son of the Amman Symphony Orchestra conductor and violinist, Jordanian-born Iraqi violinist Layth Sidiq took to the instrument early and attended Chethams School of Music in Manchester, England for high school. Sidiq received a full scholarship to Berklee, where he is working toward a degree in performance and is studying with acclaimed Arab musician Simon Shaheen. At Berklee, Sidiq has also collaborated with Limón and has shared the stage with renowned artists like Ron Carter, Lalah Hathaway, Jorge Drexler, Ivan Lins, and Alejandro Sanz, with whom he performed at the 2013 Latin Grammy Awards. In addition to his studies, Sidiq has performed at festivals around the world both as a soloist and orchestral player. He is featured on acclaimed albums such as The Voices of Afghanistan with Farida Mahwash and Humayoun Sakhi, the twice Latin Grammy Award-nominated Mi Unica Llave with José Mercé, and Limón’s Promesas De Tierra.

Palestinian cellist Naseem Alatrash’s unique sound marries his profound experience in Arabic music and his deep study of classical music. He is not only an accomplished classical musician, but also an outstanding improviser in various styles, fearlessly broadening the horizon of the cello. Alatrash has performed in more than 20 countries, including major music festivals like the Nancy Jazz Festival, Lebanon’s Beit el-Deen Music Festival, and Jordan’s Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts. Alatrash has shared the stage with artists like Ron Carter, Simon Shaheen, and Alejandro Sanz as well as the Palestine National Orchestra and the Aldebrugh World Orchestra. Alatrash is Berklee’s first musician from the Middle East to be awarded a prestigious presidential scholarship. He currently studies with Eugene Friesen, Owen Young, Rob Thomas, and Simon Shaheen.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is the nation's busiest performing arts facility and annually hosts approximately 2,000 performances for audiences totaling nearly 2 million; center-related touring productions, television, and radio broadcasts welcome 40 million more. Now in its 41st season, the center presents performances of music, dance, and theater; supports artists in the creation of new work; and serves the nation as a leader in arts education.