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Yair Dalal and The Al Ol Ensemble

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Iraqi-Israeli musician Yair Dalal was a prolific composer, violinist, and oud player dedicated to building bridges of music between the different cultures his heritage bound him to. Dalal was born in 1955 to Iraqi-born parents who had recently immigrated to Israel. He was raised in Israel on a kibbutz, and grew up studying violin in the Western mode. In 1982, a performance with Bedouin musicians in the Sinai led Dalal to look into his own heritage for musical inspiration. Dalal developed a synthesis of Arabic and Jewish sounds, and used his music to campaign for peace between the two cultures. The '90s saw numerous releases from Dalal, both as a soloist and with the Al Ol Ensemble. He continued to expand his musical language, drawing on the music of the desert and mixing its strings and melodies with instrumentation and influences from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Dalal was also tireless peace advocate. In 1994, he performed in Oslo at a celebration to honor the first anniversary of the peace accords with a chorus of Palestinian, Israeli, and Norwegian children. The performance illustrated Dalal's commitment not only to the universal power of music, but to its ability to unite cultures and communities in strife. In 2002, he was nominated by the BBC World Service for a BBC Radio 3 World Music Award. While he did not take the award home, the nomination validated Dalal's work as both a musician and an advocate for peace. ~ Johnny Loftus

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