Yuval Ron Ensemble promotes peace for the Middle East
National and ethnic boundaries disappeared Sunday night at the Broad Stage when the Yuval Ron Ensemble set it alight with music that celebrated the diversity of Middle Eastern culture, while at the same time promoting a message of peace for a darkened world. The Yuval Ron Ensemble, which was featured in PBS "Holiday Celebration" and honored with the Los Angeles Treasurer's Award, is led by award-winning composer Yuval Ron, who wrote the songs for the 2007 Oscar-winning short film, "West Bank Story."
For the Broad Stage, Ron and his ensemble brought a unique selection of music and dance that weaved together the histories of Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
Like a delicate, beautiful siren call from the depths of the earth, Ron's music and the impressive group of eight musicians and dancers that accompany him came like a mixture of all that is spiritual, mystical and achingly romantic.
Part meditation, part performance, the ensemble presented a vast canvas that included sounds from the Golden Age of Spain, Pakistan, ancient Armenia and more. Onstage, Ron reminded audience members of a time in medieval Spain when Jews and Muslims were fascinated by each other's mysticism, while Christians became hungry for the knowledge of both cultures.
The audience sat mesmerized as the whirling dervish dancer Aziz performed to an intense crescendo, or when Ron began a piece by narrating the story of an artist knocking at his beloved’s door and receiving no answer.
Equally impressive was dancer Maya G. Karasso, who brought a fiery sensuality to the stage with a fervent traditional eastern dance performed to energetic music with tribal beats, celebrating the legendary romance between King Solomon and Queen Sheeba.
“We are really this beautiful group of people that comes together for the purpose of showing that it’s possible to collaborate and create together despite all the differences,” said Karasso.
From Pakistan came Sukhawat Ali Khan, a master of harmonium, vocalist and dancer, who descends from a line of musicians 700 years old.
Throughout the whole performance, the music always emphasized one key message, peace and the unity of all faiths and cultures.
This theme came to life when Ron called on the audience like a shaman to dance during one number.
Soon the Broad turned into a temple of joyful and energetic audience members dancing down the aisles, in the balconies or from their seats, young and old, Arab and Jewish.
For a brief moment, any cultural or ethnic lines were erased as everyone moved to the Mediterranean rhythm of the music on stage.
With the Middle East being shaken by revolutions and civil wars, Ron is very clear of what artists like his ensemble have to offer.
“We are the antidote; we are in darkness," said Ron. "There is always a play between darkness and light in life. We are trying to create the light; we are not fighting the darkness with darkness."
"We bring people together, emphasize the beauty in each culture, and show respect," he said. "We are trying to create hope.”
Ron encourages the students of Santa Monica College, and youths everywhere, to become involved in bettering the world and making positive changes.
"Get involved in doing good, in doing something that brings light to the world," Ron said.