Israeli musician Esther Rada, right. (Facebook) (Facebook)
Israeli musician Esther Rada

For nearly two weeks every November, hundreds of foreigners and locals get together in the Jewish state to focus on a unique Israeli export: music.

When Israeli exports come to mind, one might picture tech products, pharmaceuticals or diamonds. However, for nearly two weeks every November, hundreds of foreigners and locals get together to focus on a different kind of export – music.

The Israeli International Showcase Festival, now in its eighth year, takes place over a two-week period, featuring the best acts the Israeli music scene has to offer. Although tickets to the festival are sold to the general public, the festival is actually directed at musical producers who want to find new acts to bring to their countries and to feature in festivals they produce around the world.

The showcase is divided into two parts, with the first half being dedicated to jazz and world music, and the second half aimed at showcasing the best of Israel’s rock and indie acts. Most of the events take place at Jerusalem’s iconic Yellow Submarine venue, however, some are put on in Tel Aviv venues like the Zone and the Barbi, and even against the classical backdrop of Jerusalem’s Tower of David.

Besides performances, the festival will also include several panels where local and foreign music industry executives will offer their knowledge and experience to those pursuing an international career in music.

“In a nutshell, we’re inviting music professionals from all over the world here to Israel, and we showcase what we consider to be the best of Israeli jazz and Israeli world music. Hopefully they will see something they like and invite the musicians back to their own countries, sign contracts and book tours, etc,” Barak Weiss, the festival’s artistic director told Tazpit Press Service (TPS), “Europe is an easy target for us because it is much closer, but also [places like] Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. All these relatively foreign countries to Israeli musicians are seeing real growth in [demand for] Israeli acts,” he added.

‘A Very Creative Scene’

“It’s a very active and a very ebullient and very creative scene,” Sebastian Danchin, artistic director of the Paris Jazz Festival, told TPS, speaking of the local music scene. “This is why it’s always been very interesting for me to come over here,” he added.

Israeli acts that have taken part in the festival in the past and have gone on to international careers include names such as Ester Rada, Lucille Crew and Shtuby, all of which have been touring the world regularly in recent years.

“The international Showcase in Jerusalem is, without a doubt, the greatest showcase festival in the world,” electronic music artist Shtuby told TPS. “I’ve been performing with my project for three years now, and have taken part in the showcase twice already, which has lead to numerous shows all over the world. I’ve performed at other showcases, in Europe as well as China, and I have yet to see such a professional and on-point festival as the one in Jerusalem,” he added.

The festival is a joint production between Jerusalem’s Yellow Submarine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Culture Ministry. It takes place between November 8-19 and features over 50 musical performers.

By: Yona Schnitzer/TPS

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