2013 marks the third annual Jerusalem Season of Culture (JSOC), a summer-long celebration of all aspects of the arts. Known as the ancient center of Israeli history and biblical culture, the Festival was launched to demonstrate that, along with its ancient history, Jerusalem is a city with a vibrant and evolving contemporary arts scene. The Festival was launched in 2011 to nurture and celebrate both the ancient cultures of the city and its cultural mix that is like no other place on the planet. By hosting events of such diverse art forms as dance, design, theater and photography, along with an incredible range of music and musicians, poetry and new media, the city projects itself with all its amazing complexity. The juxtaposition of age-old venues, some dating back an astonishing 3,000 years, with cutting edge music, dance and theater, makes for an arts scene that is both exciting and memorable. In 2011 and 2012, major site-specific installations by the noted Israeli artist/architect Ron Arad (720), the artist Anish Kapoor, and the internationally acclaimed Icelander Olafur Eliasson have served to link the performing arts to the powerful sense of place that the City of Jerusalem offers. The Festival also highlights innovations in architecture, such as the new additions of the Israel Museum. The annual, non-profit Jerusalem Season of Culture is a deliberate means of demonstrating that Jerusalem is a polyglot, multicultural and ecumenical entity. It is not the bastion of any one particular culture or religion, but rather, an incredibly diverse city, a spiritual center of the world’s three great monotheisms, Islam, Judaism and Christianity. There is a shrine or holy place everywhere one looks, everywhere one steps. The city is thronged with priests, mullahs and rabbis and with visitors from all around the globe. To risk generalization, Israelis are very competitive about their cities. Part of the goal of JSOC is to demonstrate that Jerusalem, like its newer, hipper cousin, Tel Aviv, boasts an indigenous and vibrant arts scene. To that end, the mayor of the city, Nir Barkat, (a younger, trendier Michael Bloomberg with a successful business background), is a staunch supporter and booster of the event. The City Council and the Jerusalem Development Authority are also totally on board with the Festival, melding private sector patronage and public interests to promote it. The Festival is also strongly supported by the city’s and country’s tourist boards. During the festival, hundreds of Israeli artists and international guests working in every contemporary field literally converge upon this ancient city. The 2013 Season will once again reflect the complexity and diversity of Jerusalem itself, with programs that showcase the impressively high level of artistic expression taking place in the city today. Jerusalem is home to approximately 100 cultural institutions, including world-class museums, such as the Museum on the Edge, which exhibits international contemporary art, as well as renowned performing arts groups and numerous schools, academies and conservatories. All of these cultural entities are enriched by a depth of history and a mingling of peoples and religions that is unparalleled in the world. The Jerusalem Season of Culture spotlights the artistic creativity in this historic city for both local and international audiences. “Our directive is to explore what happens when excellent cultural content encounters Jerusalem, the most fascinating city in the world,” said Itay Mautner, who is the Jerusalem Season of Culture’s Artistic Director. “As a meeting point for peoples and cultures, this city is highly charged and utterly unique, and can lead to countless artistic discoveries, to say nothing of personal discoveries. The complexity and significance of this place make it fertile soil for all kinds of creative spirits. Our goal is to put the wealth of cultural activity here onto center stage.” There is a consummate joy in the experience of being gathered, together with thousands of people from all walks of life, to experience the eclectic artistry of such groups as the internationally acclaimed Vertigo Dance Company or the ecstasy of a Sufi-Sunni Zikr ritual, an explosion of dance, drumming and acoustic music. The 2012 Jerusalem Season of Culture culminated with a 24-hour Sacred Music Festival. Concerts were held in a huge variety of venues, and were held literally around-the-clock. So successful was the Sacred Music Festival as a finale that it will once again be the culmination and high-point of the 2013 Festival. In 2012, musicians and artists from Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Canada, Israel and as far away as Brazil and Zimbabwe gathered in the city, performing a truly astonishing variety of world music. The Tower of David, a magnificent outdoor venue in the Old City, with its biblical gates and golden stone buildings, literally rang with joyous sound for 24-hours, from pre-dawn concerts until late into the night. The music sprang from a wealth of traditions, expressing the yearning of millennia towards Jerusalem. Performers included Hassan Hakmoun, who is king of the Gnawa minority from Morocco, Sevda, a gorgeous diva from Azerbaijan, and Makam Yerushalem, an orchestra that debuted at the festival, playing and performing in a wild and eclectic mix of Amharic, Hebrew and Arabic, and unfrgettable concert in the torch-lit Tower. This great in-gathering and celebration of the arts is proof positive that if peace is ever to come to this complex part of the world, it will be through the commitment of the young people of the region and the healing power of the arts. (The 2013 Jerusalem Season of Culture will be held from June 15-August 24. To learn more about the events of the festival, check out www.jerusalemseason.com/en.) u

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