Monday, July 16, 2018

The Idan Raichel Project at UCLA Live

by Noa (writer), Venice, Los Angeles, November 16, 2007


The Idan Raichel Project rocked UCLA's Royce Hall last night as the full auditorium got up to dance to the eclectic blend of world and ethnic music.

The Idan Raichel Project made its Royce Hall debut in a magnetic, sell-out performance on UCLA’s campus last night. The Project is a blend of Israeli, Ethiopian, South-American, European, and Middle Eastern music, featuring a diverse group of musicians and singers who each have the opportunity to showcase their talents during the panoply of different songs and instrumental pieces. The Project’s album features a variety of guest performers, some of which tour with the band in concert. At last night’s performance, the artists were:

Idan Raichel: a third-generation Israeli with Eastern European roots. He became attracted to world music at an early age and experimented with Gypsy music, tango, jazz, and Ethiopian music, among other styles. He plays the accordion, keyboards, and piano and also sings during many of the group’s songs. He arranges and writes the music and/or lyrics for most of the songs and created the vision of this unique group, whose performance style is to showcase distinctly each artist’s talents while simultaneously creating a seamless, multi-cultural blend.

Wogdaras Wassa: an Ethiopian singer who immigrated to Haifa, Israel when he was fourteen years-old. He specializes in Amharic lyrics and Ethiopian folk songs and still travels regularly between Ethiopia and Israel, considering Ethiopia his home.

Cabra Casay: a singer of Ethiopian heritage who was born in a Sudanese refugee camp when her parents were immigrating to Israel from Ethiopia during “Operation Moses” in the early 1980’s. She sings in Hebrew and Amharic and met Idan Raichel when they were both serving in the Israeli Army.

Lital Gabai: a singer of Iranian heritage who grew up in Israel and served as a singer in the Israeli Air Force orchestra. In addition to touring with the Project, she is also working on a solo album.

Rony Iwryn: a Uruguayan percussionist who immigrated to Israel at the age of eighteen. He has worked professionally with many Israeli music stars, doing both percussion and production.

Gilad Shmueli: an Israeli drummer from Tel Aviv who is Idan Raichel’s right-hand man in the Project. He produces the group along with Idan and has also produced albums for many popular Israeli artists.

Shalom Mor: a string-player of Georgian heritage who was born and raised in Israel. He plays guitar, Tar, and Oud and specializes in European and Middle Eastern music.

Golan Zuskovitch: an Israeli bass player from Tel Aviv who started his career playing rock music. He became hooked on the world music scene and decided to join the Project after meeting Idan while they were playing together in the band of a well-known Israeli pop star.

The Idan Raichel Project is a simply exceptional blend of world musicianship and singing and is a must-hear for any ethnic music enthusiast. A few of the highlights from last night’s concert included Rony Iwryn’s drumming on water (yes, it can be done!), Ayal-Ayale (The Handsome Hero), where Wogdaras Wassa got audience members to stand up and dance- a few even came onto the stage- and a series of encores which resulted in almost half of the crowd forming a mosh-pit near the stage. The music was truly infectious and created a festive atmosphere the likes of which I have never before seen at an ethnic music Los Angeles concert. The show was complete with little old ladies dancing in the aisles, couples swaying back and forth to the rhythm, and teenagers storming the stage and yelling “Idan, I love you.” For a group playing ethnic music to receive such rock-and-roll style praise from a generally tame-looking audience at UCLA is a testament to the power of the group’s message of universal love and peace through song. Any world music lover would have been moved and inspired by last night’s fantastic performance.

For more on the Idan Raichel Project, visit

And for more on upcoming UCLA Live Events, visit

About the Writer

Noa is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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