Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Seeds of Peace ~ Partnering for Peace, Person to Person

Partnering for Peace, Person to Person — Mendilow’s Border-Busting Mission Sets Stage for May 27th Concert at Johnny D’s

Johnny D’s presents the Guy Mendilow Band’s inventive blend of Israeli, Sephardi, Bahian street beats and blues in a concert promoting the work of Seeds of Peace, an organization revolutionizing the Mid-East peace process by bringing together Arab and Israeli youth. The evening features a concert and info session, including video, about the groundbreaking peace effort. Doors open at 8:30pm at 17 Holland St., Davis Square, Somerville MA. Tickets are $12. Advance reservations are recommended, and can be made at Learn more at

Blurring boundaries and connecting sounds, syncopations, rhythms and roots is central to the mission inspiring the Guy Mendilow Band. Israeli peace songs and Sephardi canticas meet Bahian street beats and blues. Drawing from a life lived in Israel, South Africa and Brazil, where musical collaboration cuts through ancient conflict, Israeli born musician Guy Mendilow is sowing the seeds of peace with music.

“Mendilow is no dilettante…he learned the music of these countries by living and working there – so when he sings…he knows what he’s talking about” — Boston Phoenix

It’s no surprise, then, that the Guy Mendilow Band includes world class musicians from Israel, Argentina, Japan and the United States. Or to find the group now partnering with the international peacemaking organization Seeds of Peace, whose work with Palestinian and Israeli youth and adult educators helps forge the personal relationships so critical to communication and reconciliation. The band’s partnership with Seeds of Peace will be launched with the May 27th Johnny D’s concert. The event promotes the organization’s cutting-edge approach to conflict resolution and includes a brief documentary film about the project as well as information about how audience members can get involved.


Founded in 1993, Seeds of Peace is dedicated to empowering young leaders from regions of conflict with the leadership skills required to advance reconciliation and coexistence. The organization currently focuses its efforts primarily on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, bringing together Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian and Egyptian youth and adult educators.

The Seeds of Peace internationally recognized program model, lauded by the U.S. State Department, begins at the International Camp in Maine and continues through programming in regions around the world through innovative initiatives in the form of conferences, regional workshops, educational and professional opportunities, and an adult educator program. This comprehensive system allows participants to develop empathy, respect, and confidence as well as leadership, communication and negotiation skills — all critical components that will facilitate peaceful coexistence for the next generation.


On a personal level, Guy Mendilow’s musical mission is to explore the connection between places he’s called home. Out in the world, he has oriented his band around the premise that music, and music making, can play a unique role in the effort to transform “the other” into a fellow human being to whom one can at least listen, if not necessarily agree.

“It was the height of Apartheid and my family, though secular and Israeli, was invited to participate in one of the only integrated church services in Johannesburg,” Mendilow recalls about the sparks of this passion. “We were sitting in my elementary school gym after-hours, a large gathering. The service was almost entirely singing: blacks and whites together, in beautiful harmonies. It lit something strong in me.” Throughout his childhood, Mendilow and his family played continental hop-scotch, with community singing in the living room as an important way of connecting with others.

“The glory of what [Mendilow] does is finding a common ground among different cultures.
And that’s what makes this music so exciting.”— Jewish Advocate

The Guy Mendilow Band challenges your concept of borders as you listen to Sala’am, an Israeli anthem used during the peace marches, that subtly introduces Brazilian elements in its arrangement and whose warm harmonies nod to Crosby, Stills & Nash. Or take the tastefully modern setting of the ancient Sephardi song Durme Durme, sung in that melting pot language of Spanish, Arabic, Greek, and Hebrew, created from the wanderings of the ancient Jews from Spain to the Mediterranean and Middle East. Mendilow pushes the sonic envelope by taking ancient instruments in new directions, though the band does this whimsically, with an almost adamant refusal to take itself too seriously. For instance, in Whistler’s Brother, Mendilow’s award-winning overtone singing playfully duels with a flute. Or Blues for Dino, a tongue-in-cheek slide berimbau (musical bow and arrow) blues number — a tip of the hat to Brazilian berimbau hero Dino Nascimento. The band’s fusion stems from a life-long cultural mix infusing most aspects of Mendilow’s life.

To Guy Mendilow the music cannot be separated from the message, whether you are part of the audience at Bethlehem Musikfest, New York’s Tribeca Performing Arts Center, in a master workshop with government education ministers from Palestine, Israel, Jordan or Lebanon, or swapping songs between Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the 26 diverse young people in the American Boychoir — Mendilow’s first touring experience. The Guy Mendilow Band continues to blur musical boundaries and offers its modest contributions to today’s larger peace puzzle: by creating person to person connections, one song at a time.

Don’t miss this opportunity to experience this world-class musical group and become part of a peace project that is making historic waves in the Middle East at this unique event at Johnny D’s on May 27th.

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