(Global Heart | Esther Haasnoot) Creating light, hope, and peace along with music. Yuval Ron’s unique musical style is absolutely breathtaking, and it transcends nationalistic, religious, racial and cultural divides to the oneness of humanity.
‘Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life, bringing peace and abolishing strife.’ – Kahlil Gibran
Imagine – Unity of the Heart | Yuval Ron Ensemble
Time for peace
In conversation with Yuval Ron.
Esther Haasnoot: Yuval Ron; you are an internationally renowned World Music artist, composer, educator, peace activist, and record producer, and you travel around the world with the Yuval Ron Ensemble. The ensemble includes Jewish, Christian, and Muslim artists who have been actively involved in creating musical bridges between people of various faiths and ethnic groups worldwide. Do you experience music as a path to wisdom and peace?
Yuval Ron: Music has incredible power to affect the mind and the body of the listeners. Music is nonverbal communication. It touches us in a deep, deep, deep layers. It affects our brain, it affects our nervous system, and we can melt the heart with sound. We can loosen the guards of people. We can make people more open, more receptive, and gentler and there’s plenty of Neuroscience studies that are pointing in that direction.
I have a lot of experience as a film composer. I studied psychoacoustics in film School at Berklee College of Music when I studied how to be a composer for films. Psychoacoustics is the field in which they study the psychology of each sound element how different sound elements affect the psychology of the people. And in this way music can be a path to wisdom and peace. Because music can lead people to be more receptive to peace, to be more receptive to acquire wisdom, to learn to receive information in a mystical way and in scientific way. Both are possible when music feeds the people with the coming elements with agents of peace through vibration.
Esther Haasnoot: The Yuval Ron Ensemble endeavors to alleviate national, racial, religious and cultural divides by uniting the music and dance of the people of the Middle East into a unique mystical, spiritual and inspiring musical celebration. How did the idea arise in connecting music and people? How were you inspired to it?
Yuval Ron: The idea to use music to connect people, especially people from opposing groups in the Middle East, started to grow in my mind during the second intifada. Which was the second and violent past Indian Uprising in 2000 2001? There were lots of suicide bombings. A lot of innocent people were killed on both sides of Palestinians and Israelis. This is effected me, because I was born and raised in Israel, although I’ve lived in USA most of my life. The fact that the place I was born in, and my parents were born in, was seeing such level of violence and innocent people getting killed during that time, led me to think: “what can I do”? “What can I do about it”? And all I could think of is that I’m a musician. All I know is the research that I’ve done into the music of the different people of the Middle East. I know about the instruments, I know about the Sacred Music traditions of both Jews Muslims and Christians in the Middle East. I’ve worked with these people. I worked with the elders from all those camps and all those traditions. So I thought then that, what I could do is bring them together with the music and the sacred dance from those traditions, to demonstrate how we can create greater beauty greater harmony.
My goal was to bring all together to the table and pay respect and revere all the traditions, and present each tradition in with reverence and respect in focusing on the beauty of all these traditions and bringing them together. Bringing all those beauties together on one stage with musicians and artists from those three Traditions. The three Abrahamic Traditions would be a demonstration of peace and inspiration for peace. And that’s what I started to do with my Ensemble, which is simply called The Yuval Ron Ensemble back in 1999, and we’ve been doing it since.
Esther Haasnoot: You are very committed to peace in the Middle East. What effects does music have in the tense areas? What is your perception, can music lead to unity? Is music the vehicle to bring people together?
Yuval Ron: I have about 20 years of experience of working with music to bring people together, and I have so many stories and so many anecdotes. It would take a whole book and several hours to just share with you all those anecdotes. But one of the impacts that music has is music tend to re-energize the people who have been working for peace and have lost energy. A lot of people from the peace camp who committed themselves for 10 years to demonstrate and to bring people together they lost their energy. They are so tired and so exhausted.
And when they come to my concerts, they often come to me after the concert, and they say something like: “you know, there was a song in the First Part and the third song when the singer sang in Arabic and Hebrew together, and I was so moved that I felt that I need to go back and do something for peace”. “I need to do something to bring people together.” “It gave me the energy to continue to go back to it.” So that is one of the examples of the power of music.
Once, after a concert a Syrian American woman, who was born in Syria and went to Israel and Palestine to help Palestinian refugees in refugee camps, came to talk to me. She told me that she came back to America so full of hate to Israelis. She felt so violated. She felt so much frustration, hate and hurt from what she saw in the West Bank. She came to my concert that I gave in Upstate, New York. After the concert she came to me, and she said; “you know this concert was the beginning of my healing.” “I felt that this music and this concert gives me the window, a door to start healing from experience and to stop hating Israelis and to rather work for peace.” So that was an incredible situation.
I have so many stories, so many anecdotes. I would spend hours and hours just sharing with you. Some of it you can read in my book. If you want to look up my book, it’s called Divine Attunement: music as a path to wisdom. This book has many stories about my path.
Esther Haasnoot: Do you think that if we remain faithful to who we are, expressing our presence authentically, would it be a compelling and non-violent means for social change?
Yuval Ron: It has to do with simply Being. Being ourselves, being faithful to who we are and being authentic. And how this becomes a compelling and a non-violent means for social change. Well, the first requirement is for one to be authentic. There’s no point in leading people or making any step in this world without being authentic. So, the first place to be is to tune yourself to who you are, and also remember that you are just an instrument, that it’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s not about us. It’s about being a vehicle to something greater than us.
So, if there’s something in the world that you see that is not right, that you want to change, you need to talk about it. You need to lead people to find solutions. You need to support solutions. You need to do something in this world. Before you even start doing, you need to be in tune with who you are. And to know that you are a vehicle to something greater than yourself, to something noble, to something just to higher virtue. Then you are the instrument to express these higher virtues. That is how you lead, and you do things in the world in a non-violent way.
Esther Haasnoot: So, which serves us more: beholding the world with compassion as we meet it, or chopping a path through the days with what we want with the critical honing of our minds?
Yuval Ron: I believe we need both. We need compassion. We need action. You need balance. Balance is most important. There’s not enough to have loving-kindness and compassion. You need boundaries. You need editors. You need framers. You need a frame. You need to have the heroic ability to say; “No, this is not right.” So, compassion by itself is not enough, but it’s required for a balanced harmony. So, if we want to have Harmony in our lives, we need to practice both compassion and loving-kindness, along with the heroic skills and ability to set boundaries and to cut what is not needed. And to stand up and be a Warrior of Peace on behalf what we stand for and manifest action to achieve that goal in the world. So, these are two sides of the same coin. It’s like the yin and yang. It’s like day and night. It’s not one or the other. Both need to be balanced. Action and compassion.
Esther Haasnoot: In observance of the UN International Day of Peace on September 21, Yuval Ron Ensemble will spread the message of this year’s theme, Climate Action for Peace with mystical music from the middle east. Can you tell us more about this?
Yuval Ron: My Ensemble, The Yuval Ron Ensemble, will give two concerts dedicated to the message of peace. The first concert is actually at the University of Rochester in Rochester New York, in Upstate New York. In Rochester, we’re going to be on September 20th, which is a Friday. And that’s is a global day of strike and demonstrations, to demand action to deal with climate change and the effects of climate change on the world.
I’m going to be at the university in Rochester. I’m going to be leading a concert for peace in the evening at the university. It’s in the Interfaith Chapel of Rochester University on Friday September 20th, everybody is invited. It’s open for the public. On September 21st near Woodstock New York. We’ll be in the Old Dutch Church. We’re going to be giving a concert for peace and climate action for peace. On Saturday September 21st, in the evening, right on International Peace day, we’re going to have the city mayor with us, we’re going to have Interfaith groups there and we’re going to bring various communities together for that concert, to encourage them and inspire them to do more to find solution to the coming challenges of climate change. We need to push the political and regional leaders to do more. We must demand that they find solutions and implement it. This movement demands action to deal with the issues of climate change around the world.
Esther Haasnoot: Where is the “Concert for Peace through Climate Action” being held? If one wants to purchase tickets, where should they go?
Yuval Ron: The concert on September 21st. The Concert for Peace through climate action is being held at the Old Dutch Church in Kingston, New York. People can get tickets through the calendar event page on my website. They can go to Yuval Ron music.com and go to the calendar events page and look for September 21st, and there’s a link to get tickets.
Esther Haasnoot: Thank you so much for your time. I wish you and all the love and blessings in your beautiful aspirations. It is an honor and pleasure speaking with you.
Yuval Ron: Thank you very much for your work. Thank you for this interview. I appreciate your work very much. And I appreciate you reaching out to me and being an ambassador for peace in this world. Hope to see you in one of the future events. Be well. Peace.
Yuval Ron is an internationally renowned World Music artist, composer, educator, peace activist, and record producer. Graduating Cum Laude as a Film Scoring Major at Berklee College of Music in Boston, he has continuously researched various ethnic musical traditions and spiritual paths worldwide. Among his many honors, he composed the songs and score for the Oscar-winning film West Bank Story in 2007, was the featured artist in the Gala Concert for the Dalai Lama’s initiative Seeds of Compassion in the Seattle Opera Hall in 2008, and has collaborated with the Sufi leader Pir Zia Inayat Khan since 2006. His awards include the Los Angeles Treasures Award in 2004 and prestigious grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, American Composers Forum, California Council for the Humanities and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Under his leadership, the internationally renowned music and dance group, The Yuval Ron Ensemble, has been actively involved in creating musical bridges between people of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths and has been featured on CNN, National Geographic, and in the international press and media. Yuval Ron has produced field recordings in the Sinai Desert with the Bedouins, archival preservation recordings of the sacred Yemenite, Moroccan and Andalusian Jewish traditions, and the album of master musician Omar Faruk Tekbilek titled One Truth – A Window into the Divine Passion and Poetry of Sufism.
Yuval Ron has also collaborated with neuroscientists Mark Waldman, Andrew Newburg, and others to explore the connection between sound and the brain and has received commissions from Metta Mindfulness Music to create music for medical and healing use in clinics and treatments centers.
Yuval Ron’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. For those interested in following Yuval Ron and his music: http://Yuvalronmusic.com