It’s good to have friends in the right places… This time, I am referring to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs which, as we have learned, is the entity that sponsors many Israeli music-related events in the world, including the United States, setting the pace of Israel’s cultural diplomacy. While I claim no direct connection with Israel’s MFA, I have known its Director of the Department of Digital Diplomacy, Yoram Morad, for over a decade, first in his capacity as Consul for Cultural Affairs at Embassy of Israel in Rome, and later in the same capacity at the Consulate of Israel in New York City.

Yoram is an eclectic intellectual, and someone with his ear to the ground when it comes to new art forms. He and I also share a past in radio, and I think I still owe him a great CD of Israeli “ethnic music,” which he lent me for a radio show over ten years ago and that I must confess I failed to return to him (we are using it in this class, and it is listed in the syllabus). Oooops!

Well, Yoram will be our “skype guest” in class this Thursday (if all goes well with our Internet connection). While corresponding with me this week to agree on a time for our chat, he asked me to describe the background of the students of Music in Israel, and to tell him what I thought we should talk about. Here’s what I wrote (via Facebook chat, of course…):

There are 50 students in the class. Their interests are varied, and range from issues pertaining to the relationship between music and national/cultural/ethnic identity to various aspects of Israeli musical history and culture, including pop, rock, musiqah mizrachit, art music, experimental music, music of the lehaqot tzvayiot, etc.

I’m thinking that it would be great if you could help us in two or three ways:

1. Explain what you do
2. Tell us how the role of Israeli music and musicians outside of Israel has expanded over the years, and what impact does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has on it (and what is beyond its reach)
3. Give us an insider’s sense of what is new musically in Israel in your view, and what can we expect to see/hear in the coming months (or years)

I am really looking forward to this conversation, and I welcome input from the entire class in planning our conversation.