Eyal Sela

Article Works Projects
history, Judaism, memory, mysticism
Music (fusion, klezmer, sacred music)
Middle East
created on:
November 25, 2003
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since December 10, 2003. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
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 Eyal Sela


Eyal Sela

"For me, life in Israel is a daily interaction between different nations, religions and ethno-musical cultures. This reality offers an opportunity to create a musical mosaic in which the West and the East can live together in peace. That which is different becomes familiar and friendly. I hope that the mosaic that we present to the listener will contribute to the tranquillity, colour, and joy which is found in the Israeli musical experience created here."
Eya Sela, a master on the clarinet and other woodwind instruments, is said to be one of the foremost exponents of world music in Israel. He studied classical music at the Conservatory of the University of Tel Aviv then turned his attention more than 10 years ago to studying the most various musical cultures, ranging from the Balkans to India, from the Turkish clarinet to the Indian bamboo flute. He is especially interested in klezmer and its influence on music in Israel today. He has appeared with stars of world music like Yair Dala of Israel and Adel Salameh from Palestine and has worked with the singer Schlomo Bar on the latter´s project ´Sajra´. His international concerts have included one to accompany the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yassir Arafat.

At the Jerusalem Conservatory Sela teaches music from Turkey, India and the Balkans. With the group Darma, which he has founded, he composes and plays contemporary music of the Mediterranean on an eclectic choice of traditional instruments from east and west.

At the Festival of Sacred Music 2004 Eyal Sela and the ensemble Darma are to present their ´Mount Meron Celebration Project´, about which the musician says:

The project is based on melodies that have been played and sung at the Meron festivities during the holiday of Lag B’Omer for over 200 years. These melodies tell the story of the evolvement of a local unique klezmer culture that grew up around the graves of the holy men in the area of Mount Meron. Meron is where Rabbi Simon Bar Yochai lived and taught and is an area that has attracted pilgrims since ancient times. Many piyutim (Jewish liturgical poems, often set to music) were written over the years in honor of the rabbi who is considered to be the author of the Sefer Hazohar (Book of Splendor), which is the basis of the doctrine of the Kabbala (ancient Hebrew mystical system of thought).

The Meron festivities had a cosmopolitan nature and attracted Jews of many origins as well as Arabs, Druze and Circassians from Galilee. It was a varied festival of dancing and singing, playing of music and lighting of bonfires. It had a mystical, religious and mysterious atmosphere and attracted young and old of all cultures and beliefs.

Eastern European Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel, from the end of the 18th century up to the middle of the 20th century, brought with it an eastern European musical tradition that influenced the local, predominantly Sephardic population. Those traditions, blended together, were assimilated into the local repertoire, and a new, fascinating genre of Galilee klezmer music was created.

The repertoire that evolved around the Meron festivities is called Nigunei Meron (Meron Melodies). It is unique and is not part of any other genre. Although tied to eastern European klezmer music, its uniqueness stems from the influence and mix of local cultures in Israel, mainly in Galilee.

Melodies originating in Romania and Bulgaria (doina, hora, sirba) as well as others that typify the many communities of the Jewish Diaspora in Europe (freilichs, bulgar, honga, kozachok) blended together with Turkish, Greek, Arab, Druze and Circassian melodies. Added to these were traditional Sephardic melodies. The result was the creation of a “world music” long before this term was born!

The Mount Meron Project, by Eyal Sela and Darma, transports the ´Melodies of Meron´ from the old world music into the contemporary one, painting the old magical mystical tunes with bold and vibrant new colors. In addition to acoustic instruments (Turkish clarinet, oud, kamancha and percussion) Eyal introduces the integration of electronic music, created by three different artists, giving the project an air of ´ambient´ or ´chill-out´.

And the festivities continue… at dawn the musicians and dancers return from Mount Meron, leaving the holy graves and smoldering fires and disappearing into Safed. “Bar Yochai, you have been anointed…”
Author: Martin Hager


"Darma", Magda

Published Audio,

"Sela", Magda

Published Audio,


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

Festival of Sacred Music

(05 December 03 - 14 December 03)