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Jerusalem Season of Culture

Art, theater, music and more

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Jerusalem Season of Culture

Jerusalem Season of Culture

Is Jerusalem the most fascinating city in the world? Well, in terms of layers of history, it certainly has more going for it than, say, Winnipeg. Or even Berlin. But many visitors are so (understandably) engrossed by all that history that they overlook the more contemporary aspects of culture in Jerusalem.

That's where the Jerusalem Season of Culture comes in.

Throughout 3,000 years of history, Jerusalem served as a source of inspiration to poets, musicians and other creative spirits.

Now, the Jerusalem Season of Culture summons the ancient muse for an annual summer showcase of the city's contemporary cultural treasures. From mid-May through the end of July, the city will host a series of riveting artistic experiences spanning the worlds of dance, music, poetry, philosophy, visual art, new media, and more.

Under the artistic direction of Itay Mautner, the JSOC has emerged a cultural phenomenon quite separate from the things that make Jerusalem famous, such as its holy sites, and also quite different from the cultural scene in other Israeli cities like Tel Aviv.

The 2012 program has not yet been announced, so let's recap some of the highlights from 2011. That was the first full season of JSOC (May 18-July 28), during which time the city played host to a series of remarkable artistic experiences that spanned the worlds of dance, music, poetry, philosophy, visual art and new media including: a trailblazing festival on philosophical thought, the final performances of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company's site-specific "Events," and culture in the market -- Balabusta.

The market in question, by the way, is none other than the bustling Mahane Yehuda Market, by all estimations the best food market in Israel. In recent years, the once dilapidated open-air market, or shuk, has undergone a stunning renaissance to become one of the most vibrant and exciting spots in Jerusalem. The market is not only at the heart of Jerusalem's much-touted culinary resurgence, but also home to a growing number of contemporary artists who draw inspiration from the neighborhood's rich folklore, beautiful if quirky aesthetics, and dizzying ethnic and socio-economic diversity. (Side note: stock up on coffee-flavored halvah in the market then break for lunch at the Azura restaurant.)

Other JSOC highlights in 2011 included a specially commissioned work by the Season's chosen artist, Kutiman, a fascinating visual interpretation of Steve Reich's Grammy-winning composition, Different Trains, a festival of dance, theater and music in some of Jerusalem's most intriguing homes, a two-day celebration of the popular children's folktale Aladdin and the Magic Lamp, a groundbreaking new public arts festival and memorable performance by soprano Renee Fleming, with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Overall there were 1,240 local, national and international artists from a wide spectrum of artistic media.

Once the Jerusalem Season of Culture opens, you'll find that partaking of any of its numerous offerings dovetails nicely with a visit to the recently renovated Israel Museum. The museum, located near the Knesset, is home to extensive art collections, including works by leading contemporary Israeli artists. It also houses extensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archaeology as well as the uncontested stars of the Museum's collection, the Dead Sea Scrolls.

More information on the 2012 Jerusalem Season of Culture as it becomes available.

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