Concert Previews

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Don’t Let Her Looks Fool You: She’s a Beauty and a Brain!
Both Sides the Pond:
traditional and contemporary songs from Ireland and America
Saturday, November 17, 2007, Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem

Don’t let her looks fool you: she’s a beauty and a brain. Besides being modest, impish, and blessed with a witty sense of humor, she’s a master musician and a world-class vocalist. She’s just returned to Jerusalem from a concert tour in the USA, and will be giving another concert at the Bible Lands Museum of Jerusalem, Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 8 PM.

Jill Rogoff’s her name — and she’s the only person on this planet who’s Israel’s “Celtic, Sephardic, Early Music Singer”; yet by birth she’s a Jewish Ashkenazic Anglo New Zealander who became a Jerusalemite.

Celtic singer — in Rogoff’s case — means Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Cornish, Manx, and Breton songs. In addition, she sings in dialects in the regions where different nationalities and languages overlap.

Such lovely music can also be sad or tragic — which Rogoff doesn’t shy away from, and which she prefers over other music and lyrics which are sugary sweet. In a review Rogoff wrote in 2005, she quoted another Celtic female singer who said that it’s all about the big three “D’s” — drowning, death, or being dumped by one’s lover.

She prefers the voice of female vocalists who can reveal the “dark side” of their emotions and thus the “dark side” of their voices. Let’s not be frightened: her voice is so stunningly beautiful that one has to listen well to discern the dark side of it; and her upcoming concert at the Bible Lands Museum of Jerusalem will be full of glorious, traditional, genuine old American and Irish folk music and the audience will be encouraged on some songs to sing-along.

“Sephardic singer” means she sings not only in Hebrew, but also in Ladino.

“Early Music” does not mean “pre-school” music –though she’s learned only recently on tours in the USA that she has a terrific knack with thousands of children in classroom settings — but rather it means Renaissance music and music of the Middle Ages.

She’s a brilliant musician — mostly auto-didact — who evaded or avoided studying music on the university level, because she assessed that the curriculum at that time was too narrow for her needs. By now, three and some decades later, she sings in “only” 40 languages and dialects, and adds either modestly or coyly that, “As of now I have no new plans to sing in any more languages.” Jill has also set to music, poetry from English, Hebrew, French, and Ladino.

This truly modest lady has worked in the past as a cook, administrator, and music teacher. She omitted revealing that she won First Place in the Harp Contest recently at the Richmond Highland Games & Celtic Festival — which this reporter discovered otherwise.

Luckily for civilization-at-large she’s now a full-time career musician and vocalist, who’s also travelled abroad to give her own recitals as well as to study under musical masters in other nations. She’s accumulated enough musical knowledge to be on the level of a university lecturer of Folk Music and Ethnic Music, but lacks the academic accreditation for such. She’s a harper — she owns several of them; a guitarist — she owns four; as well as plays the recorder, percussion and piano.

This intrepid lady is now doing a diploma course from the USA to become an accredited therapeutic musician in medical settings. Rogoff’s practicum is being done with adult patients at the Oncology Dep’t. — as well as in the Neo-Natology intensive Care Unit (NICU) for premature babies whose lives are at risk — at Sha’are Zedek Hospital of Jerusalem. Yes, it’s been medically proven that the respiratory function of frail babies can be qualitatively bettered by their hearing harp music. The babies’ parents and hospital staff are grand recipients of her music too. Rogoff honestly admits to sometimes being exhausted after these sessions, but also to being very fulfilled by the therapeutic support she’s able to provide to patients, familes, and staff via her harp music.

Jill Rogoff’s fascinating website can keep the reader busy for hours — even without hearing a sound of her music. She shares her interests in social action work, and frequently asked questions [FAQ’s] — which she answers so wittily that one can almost hear her New Zealand musical accent lilting, humoristically, with her charming smile on her face.

She produced a CD in honor of/in memory of American-Israeli folk musician & musical instrument producer Ray Scudero, who died prematurely. Rogoff directed some 80% of the proceeds to his widow to help offset the cost of his care.

She’s calling her upcoming performance Both Sides the Pond — the “pond” is the British term for the Atlantic and her music is from both sides of it all. Her focus will be on Irish and American songs and her musical voyage will be a trip down memory lane. She earnestly says, “Come ready to sing along!”

For the real thing, get off The Internet and mark your calendar for Nov. 17, 2007.

Rogoff will be performing her Both Sides the Pond concert at the well-known venue of the beautiful Bible Lands Museum of Jerusalem, BLMJ, on “Museum Row” at Granot Street, next to the Israel Museum, catty-corner to the Knesset, at the newly very popular Chamshushalaim Series, with inexpensive tickets — only 10 NIS apiece, on a 1st-come, 1st served basis. The museum’s cafeteria will be open for refreshments at cost ahead of time. The concert will start at 8:30 PM. Tel. 02-561-1066.  — Sue Tourkin Komet

Sue’s a member of the Israeli Press Association and volunteers at a Jerusalem Soup Kitchen in her “spare” time. In 2005 she was awarded a Grant from the Office of the President of Israel for the publication of her 1st book, but she’s too busy reviewing or previewing cultural events for… to finish her book right now.