New CD from Singer David D'or

Operatic Singer David D'or's version of Lecha Dodi was chosen to head a world music CD, and non-Jewish fans mistook it for modern Israeli music.

Ben Bresky, | updated: 20:57

David D'or
David D'or

Israel's famous four-octave singer's voice is unmistakable in its operatic quality. The musician has become quite popular outside Israel too, representing Israel in the 2004 Eurovision song competition and performing around the world for both dignitaries and fans. D'or's new CD is a departure from some of his past world music sounds. It is more pop and less classical / new age fusion. Yet D'or distinctive voice is still the highlight. D'or spoke to Israel National Radio's The Beat about his new CD and a concert where the audience confused an ancient Jewish melody with modern Israeli pop. 

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"It's an imaginary world." says D'or of his new CD, The World I'm Painting. "My father used to tell me," says the singer, "When I get older, there will be no war, but peace. Unfortunately that didn't happen. So I am trying to paint for my daughter and for the new generation a world without war or pain or fear. I know it sounds naive, but we have to dream in order to achieve something." 
Question: Tell us about your background. Did you start out in the classical and opera world?
David D'or: I did not start out as an opera singer at all. My family is half North African and half Italian. So the North African rhythm is very familiar to me. But I also studied classical music in Jerusalem at the music academy. Ever since I was very young, I was exposed to many kinds of music. So nothing sounds strange to my ear. You don't have to study in order to understand. There is something more precise in saying something through music. I can explain something to a person and he may or may not understand. But I can sing one line and he can see exactly what I feel. That's why a person in Singapore can understand what I'm singing about even though he doesn't understand Hebrew. And I can understand what he wants when he sings. It's an international language that I think we need to use more.
Question: I see a lot of Israeli musicians such as Idan Raichel mixing genres. Do you see this as an Israeli thing? 
David D'or: I think Israel is multicultural. People came here from all over world. We who are born here in Israel are much more open to different music. Also, the world is getting smaller and smaller and we are exposed to Chinese music, Indian music, American music and Israel is kind of like the heart of the world. Jerusalem is the heart of the world for me. This heart has the ability to contain all kinds of music and to make from it a beautiful painting.  
The Jewish tradition has so many beautiful songs and chants. We must understand and learn our roots and grow from there.

A year ago, D'or released Songs of the Many with Patric Sabag, a traditional Jewish themed project that includes different cantors and musicians from different walks of Jewish life. Although not religiously observant, D'or talks about his passion for the tradition. 
"It was a project that was born after my father passed away, "comments the singer. "I was praying in the synagogue and all those old melodies and memories came to my mind and I wanted to express them my way. I collected all those beautiful chants. I think some even go back to the Second Temple era. Those songs have never been recorded before in any way. For me it's very important to understand the past in order to write new music."

"I believe that it's like a tree," D'or continues. "Even though you see the beautiful blossoms from the leaves and flowers on top of the tree, it gets it's power from the roots. The Jewish tradition has so many beautiful songs and chants and prayers and in order to develop the culture, in order to have something we can call Israeli music as I see it, we must first of all understand and learn our roots and grow from there. So for me it was very important to collect those chants and to make a very modern production." 
One of the musician's most memorial concerts was at a recent WOMAD festival, the world music concert organized by former Gensis band member, Peter Gabriel. 
"We were singing these prayers on stage in London and people thought that it was new Israeli music," says D'or. "The power of the words and the melodies has been successful for so many years and touched the hearts of so many Jewish people through generations. It has the power to touch other people as well. One of these songs, Lecha Dodi, performed in the Sephardic way, was chosen by Peter Gabriel himself to open the album of the WOMAD festival. For me, its important to bring this message to the world." 
Question: So they thought this was new Israeli music? 
David D'or: It was a new production but the melody was ancient. This music has the magic. There is a message that goes through the words. It's past and future and present all together.  
Question: Any final thoughts on your music? 
David D'or: I just want to send the audience a message of love and I hope you will spread the beautiful message of music we have here in Israel. Do not to judge the Israeli people only by what you see on the news connected to the Middle East crisis. Israel is a great country with beautiful people and I invite everybody to come and visit and listen to our music and learn our culture.