Yuval Ron ensemble brings music from the Middle East to campus

Incorporating music from Arabic, Jewish and Christian artists, the award-winning Yuval Ron Ensemble performed at UNF on Jan. 21. They celebrated the sacred musical traditions of Judaism, Sufism and the Christian Armenian Church in the Lazzara Theater.

Yuval Ron is a musician, lecturer, composer and peace activist who works with other artists to spread the message of hope, peace, and tolerance.

In an interview with Spinnaker, Yuval said playing music “is a calling beyond logic. Bringing hope to others warms my heart.” He continued, “I want to create a more harmonious world for my children, and inspire others to promote peace.”

The show was a unique experience for audience members. Cody Grunwald, a UNF Philosophy major, said the music was a nice breakaway from the usual.

“I wasn’t sure what ‘mystical music of the middle east’ sounded like coming into the performance, but it was a good experience,” Grunwald said.

The students in the audience reacted positively to the group.

The final song was “Hallelujah,” and the audience was encouraged to sing along. Photo by Jordan Bebout

“I loved the energy and seeing what they’re capable of,” UNF biology major Rebekah Satalino said.

The ensemble performed “The Golden Age of Spain,” which features Arabic, Hebrew, and Spanish verses inspired by the religious tolerance there between Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities.

Yuval Ron is more than a talented performer. He has worked with neuroscientists doing music therapy, and has composed original music scores for TV, movies, and even video games. Yuval’s book Divine Attunement: Music as a path to Wisdom, won the Gold Medal Award for Best Spirituality Book at the Indie Book Awards 2015.

The musical performance brought together people of different faiths, and re-inspired spiritual connections on a personal level. Najwa Gibran, a singer with the ensemble said that singing has strengthened her Catholic faith, and has been able to see “the different forms of God’s existence” through music.

The ensemble encouraged the audience members to clap along with the beat by teaching a traditional Jewish tune with them. About 40 UNF Choir members performed alongside the ensemble, singing “This Is The Time For Peace” and  Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

Merchandise was available during the performance. Photo by Jordan Bebout

Norik Manoukian, a skilled woodwind performer, produced powerful melodies that had cut through the air in the theater. Performing a simple folk song from the rolling hills of Romania, called “Birds,” Manoukian created bird sounds using his instrument, which sounded extremely authentic.

Manoukian played an instrument called a zuna, a “reed trumpet,” which has a “distinct sound somewhere between a bagpipe and a clarinet.” He used the instrument in a song called “Psalm of Psalm,” written to express the deep love between King Solomon and the Queen Sheba of Africa.

Yuval has lectured throughout the world in universities such as University of California, Los Angeles, John Hopkins University, Berklee College of Music, and the Jerusalem Film School in Israel.

As the ensemble and the Osprey Choir belted out the familiar words of “Hallelujah,” the audience stood and joined them. If OneJax’s goal was to highlight the “Oneness of humanity,” they certainly achieved it.


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