Navigate to News section

A Concert at Masada for the Shrinking Dead Sea

French musician Jean-Michel Jarre is calling attention to environmental policies that may damage the Earth’s most treasured sites

Zoë Miller
April 04, 2017
Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images
The stage for Jean-Michel Jarre's concert atop Masada, April 2, 2017. Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images
Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images
The stage for Jean-Michel Jarre's concert atop Masada, April 2, 2017. Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

nbIf you’re familiar with the name Jean-Michel Jarre, you’ve likely heard the French musician’s innovative electro-acoustic compositions, such as his 1976 breakout album Oxygène. Turns out that Jarre–the son of renowned film composer Maurice Jarre and France Pejot, a member of the French Resistance who survived the Ravensbrück concentration camp―is also an ardent environmental activist and goodwill ambassador for UNESCO. And if you follow him on social media you’ll know that he’s also hard to ignore: His accounts are rife with bold, environmental calls-to-action like drawing attention to the fertile Dead Sea, or “the vagina of the planet.”

The Dead Sea reference, crude is it may be, is not a coincidence. This Thursday, to raise awareness about how the salt lake shared by Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, is gradually drying up—and to protest anti-environmental policies (like the approval of the Keystone pipeline)―Jarre will perform an all-night concert with dance/electronic artists Sahar Z and Khen at the Masada fortress, a site that received UNESCO World Heritage designation in 2001. (The Dead Sea itself has yet to earn that recognition). “I want the Dead Sea, like Masada, to be part of UNESCO’s world heritage,” Jarre told AFP during a visit to the fortress in advance of the show. “This region belongs to humanity. It involves all of us from a human point of view. We must do our utmost to preserve this place.”

Jarre, whose past concert venues include other UNESCO-designated spots such as the Pyramids of Giza and the Athens Acropolis, holds a four-time Guinness World Record for the number of spectators at a performance. (A 1997 Moscow show garnered a crowd of 3.5 million.) Masada is a pretty popular venue. Acts ranging from Israeli singer-songwriter David Broza, who plays an annual sunrise concert on Tu B’Av, to David Guetta have appeared there. In July, you can see alt-rockers the Pixies.

If you can’t make it to Jarre’s Israel gig this week (only 10,000 tickets will be available, according to Alexandra Juran, the event’s artistic director), you can catch him in North America next month when he tours the continent for the first time. “For me, the whole point of this project is to make people aware of the urgency of dealing with the Earth as a whole,” he said. “The concert will contribute to, I hope, organizing the resistance against all the Trumps of the world.”

Zoe Miller is Tablet’s editorial intern. Follow her on Twitter here.