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Pharaoh's Daughter Brings Down the House

Pharaoh’s Daughter held the audience spell-bound as the first song, Hagar, was played. As the last straining notes were sounded, the audience erupted into thunderous applause.

Based in New York City, Basya Schechter led five other talented musicians from various backgrounds to create Pharaoh’s Daughter. Ms. Schechter brought her Hasidic background to a beautiful mix of music. A few regions of which Pharaoh’s Daughter’s music is influenced by include Israel, the Middle East, Africa, Turkey, and Greece.

The instruments used were just as eclectic as the styles of music. An attendee would have seen foreign instruments such as an Oud, and an Erhu. There were also familiar instruments as well such as an acoustic guitar, drums, and a keyboard. There were also various objects used for percussion and sound effects, including an empty water bottle. After being asked how many items he used for percussion, Mathias Kunzli stated, “I have no idea. Who counts them?”

Uri Sharlin—the pianist of the group—describes Pharaoh’s Daughter: “in New York City you get influences of many different kinds of music: African, Jewish, etc. on the same block sometimes.” According to Mr. Sharlin, Ms. Schechter collects melodies, instruments, and genres and mixes the songs herself.

The highly talented group performed songs from Pharaoh’s Daughter’s newest album, Haran (2007), such as Yona, Sami, and Hagar. The performance was not limited to the group’s new songs, but also included older songs such as “By Way of Haran” (2004) and “Exile” (2000).

High energy permeated in the crowd and through the building from the very beginning of the performance. The excitement of both performer and audience grew with each next song. Ms. Schechter congratulated those attending the convocation as being the best audience Pharaoh’s Daughter has performed for.

Audience participation was high. A few songs required call and response. The audience became much more animated during the last half of the performance. Many people started dancing through the aisles and at the sides of Phelps-Stokes.

As the last few notes of the night were played the crowd erupted in loud applause and shouts of “encore!” to which the group happily obliged.

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