Corrections or additions?
This article was prepared by Deb Cooperman for the March 9, 2005
issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Israel’s Springsteen Arrives
Filling an audience for a concert with singer-songwriter David Broza
in his native Israel is about as difficult as getting a hall filled
for Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen in the United States – Broza is
that popular. A self-taught guitarist with over 20 albums – Broza’s
1989, "Away from Home" was named one of the best pop albums of the
year by the New York Times – Broza is known for his multicultural,
flamenco-tinged folk-rock written and sung in Hebrew, Spanish, and
English. Critics have described him as everything from a "post-modern
Leonard Cohen" to "the Bruce Springsteen of Israeli rock and roll."
But aside from serious world music aficionados, Broza’s name and music
are not that well known in the United States.
But that’s beginning to change. Broza comes to McCarter on Saturday,
March 12. While some people in the audience may be unfamiliar with the
songs from Broza’s platinum-selling albums, others will come out of
curiosity – to see the singer who was hand-picked by Sting to open for
him on his 1995 tour.
"Part of the mission of this theater is to introduce the artistic
expression of other cultures and worlds to our mainstream audience,"
says McCarter’s special programming director Bill Lockwood. "For
example, we’re bringing Cudamani, a Balinese dance company in this
spring; we have a couple of artists coming from South Africa. We’re
aware of the need to bring these cultures to our community. This area
of programming has grown, and I wish we had more time in our schedule;
there’s a wealth of potential presentations from all parts of the
globe. There are other worlds beyond what we think we know. Why do
people travel? We might all like to go to Bali or Israel – it’s quite
a trip. You just don’t have a chance to see all of these things, but
they come to McCarter – and we give you a little taste of what you get
when you travel."
A fine mission, indeed. But even though McCarter is a non-profit
organization, the theater wouldn’t stay in business for very long if
they couldn’t get people in the seats for these performances. So how
do they fill the house for unknown-in-these-parts performers like
McCarter does what they do with many of the world music, dance, and
theater acts booked by Lockwood – they reach out and join forces with
the community to inspire curious armchair travelers to taste the
cultural offerings they’re dishing out.
"There are certain events where we have great community support," says
McCarter’s public relations director Dan Bauer. "When we did ‘Polk
County’ (a musical by Zora Neale Hurston and Dorothy Waring about life
in a 1930s black southern sawmill that was produced in 2004), we
worked closely with the Ellarslie Museum in Trenton." The museum
hosted a tie-in exhibit and concert called "Blue Notes: Chronicling
the Blues from Polk County to Trenton" that coincided with the dates
of the McCarter production. There was a reception and a blues concert
with nationally known artists Steve Guyger and Joe Zook. Bauer also
went with Kecia Lewis [star of the McCarter production] to Shiloh
Church in Trenton and the minister made a point to introduce her.
To promote the David Broza concert Bauer has been working with the New
Jersey-Israel Commission. "These community groups understand that if
this kind of programming is going to succeed, we need help getting the
Helping McCarter get the word out about the Broza concert is a labor
of love for Andrea Yonah, the executive director of the New
Jersey-Israel Commission. The commission was established in 1989 by
Governor Kean to enhance and foster relationships between New Jersey
and Israel, through economic development and trade, education, and
culture and tourism initiatives.
"In terms of culture, we look to foster cultural collaborations," says
Yonah. "We work with the theaters to help them promote the artists
they bring in. Our state theaters don’t know every community, so
rather than have them spend time researching the community, we work
with the organization."
Yonah is looking forward to this concert. "Anyone who has been to
Israel, lived in Israel – and a lot of young people who’ve been
involved with Jewish youth groups – know David Broza," she says. His
song "Yiyeh Tov (Things Will Get Better)" is "like the ‘Blowin’ in the
Wind’ of Israel. It’s a real song of optimism, it’s a peace ballad."
Yonah’s network includes the Jewish Federation in the Mercer/
Bucks/Middlesex counties and the synagogues in the general area, which
in turn tell their constituents. "McCarter has been phenomenal in
creating fundraising opportunities too," says Yonah. For example, a
synagogue can get a big group together, purchase tickets through
McCarter’s group sales director, and then use the concert as a
fundraising event. "It not only helps the theater, but it helps the
community by raising money that can enhance projects these
organizations are already working on. It’s fun when it all comes
together," she says, "when you can get people together and everyone
Being exposed to the rich tapestry of music, dance, and theater from
other cultures will certainly benefit the community, says Lockwood.
"It’s just as important to our programming as classical music. World
music is constantly evolving; we probably haven’t even scratched the
surface," he says. When he first began choosing programs to bring to
McCarter in 1963, world music meant one man: Ravi Shankar, says
Lockwood. In fact it was largely through his affiliation with the
Beatles – and George Harrison in particular – that Shankar became
known to western audiences. "Now," Lockwood says, "Shankar is in his
80s and he is still going strong. Now his daughter – who is an artist
in her own right – Anoushka Shankar, will be coming with him" for his
next performance at McCarter, in April. "Every year there’s a new menu
of available performers," Lockwood says.
– Deb Cooperman
91 University Place, Princeton. $30 and $33; $10 students.
609-258-2787 or www.mccarter.org.
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