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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Israeli-Iranian Singer Rita Wows the UN

Nadene Goldfoot
Ambassador to the UN Ron Posner hosted a special event at the UN's General Assembly.  He had a night for everyone to hear Rita Kleinstein sing the songs of her two worlds, Iran and Israel in Hebrew, Farsi and English.  I never thought such an event would ever happen, especially at the UN.  It was a historical concert, and the Secretary General Ban Ki moon even said "Shalom" (peace)  to the audience. The President of the UN, Vuk Jeremic of Serbia also spoke.  His family had been one of the righteous Gentiles that had saved a Jewish family during WWII.

 Posner said that Rita was going to rock the UN.  I wondered if any Iranians were in attendance, and there were as when she was reciting an Iranian poem, she stumbled and the audience helped her out.  The poem was about being a real human being.    Evidently Rita has performed in Iran as well as in Israel and New York.

Stevie Wonder was the headline in an earlier event such as this.  He had said that Music is a world within itself.  Posner said that music can touch the hearts of all people.  It can build bridges of understanding.  Posner was a singer himself and always dreamed of being the host for Rita.  He belonged to a group called the Camp David A Chords.

Rita Kleinstein had to wait to sing for 3 important men to make their speeches of introduction and for her orchestra to play one song before she came out.  I was surprised to see her in a skirt way above her knees and sleeveless, showing she most likely was used to performing in Tel Aviv.  I'm just guessing here.  Her music was  in the minor key and very Iranian  which was where she was born and didn't leave until the age of 8.  Her mother had been a beautiful singer and passed on her songs to Rita.  Her father had been a school teacher and taught Rita many of her Iranian poems and such.

I noticed that the orchestra had about 9 musicians.  The opening song was done on an instrument something between a violin and a cello but very round  played by a musician with dreadlocks. It started slowly and built up to a climax.   The tunes were different from Ofra Haza's Yemen melodies or even from the enchanting "In a Persian Market" that I used to play on the piano.  I thought they were quite melancholic until a few became very upbeat with drums.  She also had songs from Haim Bialik's Hachnisini Tahat Knafech "Under Your Wing."  which were Rita's tunes for peace. For the program she sang "Time For Peace" in English.

She sang one song with a tinge of klesmer music played by the orchestra and had more gusto in the tempo than the other songs.  It was sung in Hebrew.  That's when I started rocking.  If you go to the reference below you can listen to the whole program which I have done and pretend you are in the audience at the UN.  The audience really liked the more upbeat and exciting music.  They wanted to rock.  I enjoyed some of the wild drumming that intoduced  and ended some songs.   Gene Krupa would have loved it!

The program brought me back to my days in an Israeli Ulpan in Haifa where we had a visiting teacher of Moroccan descent who used to visit us in her spectacular traditional Moroccan clothing.  She was ultra beautiful, a star in her own right.    There's nothing like our brethren of recent Middle Eastern heritage to make you excited about our Israel being made up of so many cultures throughout the whole world.

I found a CD of hers on amazon called My Joys (Persian Songs) Audio CD.


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