Talk and concert with Yair Dalal

Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore, Venezia, Teatro Ca' Foscari
plus Mar, 0607 2024

6 March, h 18

Teatro Ca’ Foscari, Santa Marta, Venice

Music as an instrument of peace 

Talk with Yair Dalal coordinated by Giovanni De Zorzi


7 March, h 18

Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice

Music and songs from Jewish Babylonian heritage

Concert by Yair Dalal, voice, ‘ud and violin



The Intercultural Institute for Comparative Music Studies has invited Yair Dalal, virtuoso performer to Venice for a double date. Dalal, ‘ud and violin player and composer, is specialised in the musical repertoire, instrumental and sung, of the Hebrew-Iraqi tradition. Dalal’s family came to Israel from Baghdad and his Iraqi roots are an important part of his musical project. Dalal, born in Israel in 1955, has developed a composite musical style in which elements of European classical music, jazz and Arabic music can be found. He combines his activity as a musician with research and a commitment to preserving the Hebrew-Babylonian Iraqi musical heritage and also, following a period in which he lived on a kibbutz in the Arabah desert in southern Israel on the border with Jordan, the musical tradition of the Bedouins of the Sinai desert.


The settlement of Jewish communities in the area of present-day Iraq, where Babylon stood, dates back over 2,500 years, to the 6th century BC following the destruction of the first Temple in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II. Even after the Persian conquest of Babylon, although Jews were free to return to the motherland, many remained, founding an important community that coexisted with others in the region until the early 1950s when, at the end of British control and the concomitant birth of the state of Iraq, a decree allowed Jews who wished to do so to move to the newly founded state of Israel. Over 100,000 Iraqi Jews took advantage of that opportunity. With them they brought musical traditions that are now all but forgotten both in Iraq and even in Israel itself. These include sacred songs and hymns called shbahoth, songs for pilgrimages (ziyyara) as well as secular vocal and instrumental music based on the Arabic musical system of maqam that Jewish-Iraqi masters composed and performed at gatherings and festivals in Iraq, as well as on the radio. Dalal learnt these repertoires from some important exponents of this tradition and strives to bring them to life and revive them in his works.


The concert, inspired by the Hebrew-Iraqi musical tradition in which Yair Dalal grew up and by the sound atmospheres of the desert, will feature sacred songs, liturgical music, secular songs, some of them in Aramaic, as well as his own original compositions.


Yair Dalal is a prominent peace activist committed to building a bridge of understanding and creativity between different cultures. Among his many efforts to promote peace between Arabs and Israelis, Dalal has written an album entitled ‘Inshallah Shalom’. He toured with a group of Palestinian musicians, but when the second intifada started, they were banned from travelling together. In 1994, he performed at the gala concert of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, awarded together with Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat. The meeting-interview, organised with the collaboration of the Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage and Ca’ Foscari Theatre, coordinated by Giovanni De Zorzi, is an opportunity to delve deeper into his journey.



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