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

Broza?

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

word out."

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

benefits."

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

David Broza, Saturday, March 12, 8 p.m. McCarter Theater,

91 University Place, Princeton. $30 and $33; $10 students.

609-258-2787 or www.mccarter.org.


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