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Moroccan Jews constitute an ancient community, immigrating to the region as early as 70 CE. This community had great influence on life in Morocco in general and on its cultural aspects in particular. The Jewish Community has developed as a hybrid of the many cultures that have shapedMorocco itself, namely Jewish, Arab, Berber, French and Spanish.
Tom Cohen, 28, is head conductor and musical director of both the New Andalus Orchestra Ashkelon (Israel), and the Orchestre Andalu de Montreal (Canada). Recently appointed as artistic director of the “Gibraltar World Music Festival”. Combining both western classical academic background (BA from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and dance, 1st Prize in the Plectro Rioja Competition in Spain with the Kerman Mandolin Quartet) and wide experience in leading ethnic and traditionally oriented ensembles (The Emil Aybinder Gypsy ensemble, The Ethno Cyprus Orchestra), he is considered to have a special ability and approach with which he transmits the authenticity of the music of North Africa and the Middle East to classically trained musicians; last June Cohen was invited to conduct The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, performing his arrangements, with one of Israel's biggest performers David Broza. Cohen is also considered to be one of the world's most fascinating Mandolin artists. Playing an instrument built especially for him by internationally renowned luthier Boaz Elkayam, in a unique method and system inspired by Classical Mandolin, Flamenco Guitar, Greek Bouzouki and Arabic Oud, he is stretching and broadening the boundaries of standard Mandolin playing, especially with his original compositions, performed by The Tom Cohen Quartet (Mandolin, Guitar, Double-Bass, Percussion).
The MED Orchestra, led by virtuoso artist Tom Cohen will take us through a musical journey presenting several tastes of the“Judeo – Arab” tradition, by playing a variety of Classical Moroccan musical genres; ranging from the “Ala – Andalus” to more contemporary compositions, exposing the Ancient“Matruz” (Interweaving) style of text writing, with which Jewish poets wrote Hebrew lyrics in an Arabic soundex and tone, “playing” with the two languages' similar sounds and vowels while sharing great respect to both semitic brother tongues. Combining both western classical academic background and wide experience in leading ethnic and traditionally oriented ensembles, Tom Cohen is considered to have a special ability and approach with which he transmits the authenticity of the music of North Africa and the Middle East to classically trained musicians. This manifestation will take shape with one of the greatest interpreters of the “Judeo-Arab” style; the legendary cantor Rabbi Haim Louk; who transmits, with his experience and wisdom, the depths of the Melodies, of both Hebrew and Arabic liturgical poems. Rabbi Louk was born in Casablanca, Morocco in 1942. Blessed with a beautiful voice, tremendous talent and enormous knowledge, he is representing a human bridge, a very natural character, thus, one that is almost forgotten in our times - both Jewish and Arab, both Moroccan and Israeli. Full of mutuality and similarities, no contradiction what so ever.