Omar Faruk Tekbilek's Official Website

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Hearing the World Loud and Clear

(March 21) – Dubi Lentz is a hard man to please. Most people would be happy with keeping a new venture going for four years, particularly in the arts. Not Lenz.
Israel’s Mr. World Music is not just interested in offering the public a good evening’s entertainment, he wants to educate us as well.

Lentz, who is about to put on the Fourth Annual Hearing The World festival at Tel Aviv’s Performing Arts Center (March 29-31), has done probably more than anyone else in this country to extend the boundaries of our musical consciousness. Anyone who has heard his weekly radio show on Army Radio’s Hakol Zorem (“Everything Flows”) will have encountered an impressive cultural and geographical musical mix which is just about the absolute antithesis of the regular radio diet of commercially viable hits and easy listening.

The Hearing The World program also includes the I Muvrini band from Corsica, which has also seen its fair share of political strife, and a frequent visitor to these shores, Omar Faruk Tekbilek who hails from Turkey.

“The only possible exception to that lot is singer Bebel Gilberto from Brazil, but we’ll forgive her,” Lentz laughs. “But they are all very excited to be coming here, so I don’t think they’ll be put off.”

” Bringing Bregovic to Tel Aviv is actually far easier said than done. Not that Bregovic is a difficult man to get on with, it’s just a matter of logistics. “He’ll have three or four Bulgarian female vocalists with him. “Then there are 13 string instrument players and a 15-piece choir, 42 musicians all told. He’s going to blow the roof right off the Performing Arts Center,” Lentz enthuses

Omar Faruk Tekbilek is a natural choice for any world music festival.

Tekbilek is no stranger to these shores – he has been here four or five times before – but local fans of his music may be surprised by the songs he plays at the festival. His latest CD Alif, which is due to be released around the time of the festival and will be the basis of his concerts here, represents a departure from the tried and tested style of his previous recordings. The 12 tracks present a far more varied palette than his efforts to date.

“I thought it was about time to add a little bit of a twist without losing the quality I established, the ethnic quality,” Tekbilek says in a telephone interview from his home in Rochester, New York. “Everything I did before had the same character and flavor. We achieved a different ambience this time.”

One of the most innovative aspects of Alif is the fact that Tekbilek sings on several tracks which, before this album, he had only done at live performances. “I was encouraged to sing. I was afraid at the beginning, but people seemed to like my voice and, lately, I enjoy singing more.”

Celebrated ethnic percussionist Steve Shehan will appear with Tekbilek at the festival and he also helped to produce Alif. “Steve has made a great difference and I like the way he uses background sounds. It was different from the things I was doing,” continues Tekbilek.

Remarkably for Tekbilek, who has gained a reputation for playing pure roots music, the new CD also incorporates a modicum of technologically induced sounds. “Steve uses some electronic stuff, and a couple of loops which he created, and we both played over the loops. I want to come up with something fresh for the people every time and I’m happy with the result.”
After 30 years of cultivating an ethnic music market in Israel, Lentz feels we have come a long way to being more receptive to multicultural synergies and sounds from faraway lands, as well as getting back to our own roots.