A cultural musical journey through 'Voyagers'
PEPPER PIKE, Ohio - For the first time ever, traditional Native flute has been beautifully intertwined with Jewish- and Israeli-themed classical cello music, creating magnificent cross-cultural dialogues between world-renowned musicians R. Carlos Nakai, Navajo-Ute, flutist, and cellist Udi Bar-David, Israeli emigre. From these dialogues, the ''Voyagers'' recording evolved, creating an unforgettable unique collection of musical and cultural history.
Preparing for the recording, Bar-David, a 20-year veteran cellist for the Philadelphia Orchestra, listened to American Indian traditional music as well as Jewish- and Israeli-themed music. Once in the studio, Bar-David explained, ''We expanded on themed music and entered an artistic dialogue. We created it at the moment. It was an improvisation, a natural revolution. We created a cross-cultural recording, a first of its kind.''
Each musician had a piece or two that meant something special to them. For Bar-David, who studied at the prestigious Julliard, ''Lech Lamidbar,'' meaning ''go to the desert,'' and ''Hayu Leilot,'' meaning, ''those were nights,'' were special to him because they reminded him of his childhood.
''Amazing Grace'' is Nakai's favorite piece on the CD. For him it seemed to depict the challenging journeys of the American Indians and how they grow, communicate and deal with the constant changes in life. ''As American Indians, we are growing and we are a culture of many experiences. There is no written way to be. It has to be what we know,'' Nakai furthered explained.
The two musicians first came together in 2005 at a concert series in Arizona sponsored by Bar-David's organization, Intercultural Journeys, which promotes cross-cultural dialogues through the arts, particularly music. Bar-David said he looks forward to working more with Nakai and other American Indian musicians in the future and plans on visiting Native communities in the Southwest.
Nakai, the multi-GRAMMY nominee, felt this collaboration was ''a way to communicate how we feel about ourselves and our culture. We envisioned a conversation between two people in a language of music and the audience got to listen. This encourages us to share our stories with the world, our creations stories, and how we came to be. Israeli and the Jewish people have been through a lot of the similar things ... the important thing is that we are both still here.''
Nakai, a Navy veteran, has spent the last 25 years playing traditional Native flute and has sold more than 40 million records. He was classically trained on the trumpet but switched to traditional flute after learning it was in jeopardy of becoming an instrument of the past.
''Voyagers'' included a special appearance by GRAMMY nominee Will Clipman, and was recently released by the Phoenix-based Canyon Records, a Native record label.