Expanding Musical Ties Between Birmingham and Rosh Ha’Ayin

In May, the sister city relationship between Rosh Ha’Ayin and Birmingham centered on music once again as a small delegation went to the Israeli city’s music festival.

Scotty Colson, who directs Birmingham’s Sister Cities Commission, noted that Rosh Ha’Ayin Mayor Moshe Sinai is positioning the city as Israel’s music center, even landscaping all the city’s traffic circles with music-themed sculptures.

Headlining the Birmingham group was local jazz great Eric Essix, the youngest inductee into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. He performed at the festival’s opening night, which was held in the migdal, the crusader castle overlooking the city. An amphitheater is planned for behind the site.

Colson said Meir Serrouya, head of the Rosh Ha’Ayin Music Conservatory, organized a performance by a large number of the musicians at the festival, making sure none of them knew each other previously. There were many different languages spoken by the musicians, but he wanted to demonstrate the common language of music through their performance.

Essix did a music clinic for students at the conservatory, and said “I don’t think I have ever seen a group of kids so passionate and interested in the music and with such a desire to play and learn.”
Noting the use of music to bring Rosh Ha’Ayin together, Essix said “I hope to borrow ideas from this model in my own continuing efforts to enrich our community through music.”

The Birmingham delegation toured Rosh Ha’Ayin’s biotech and health industries. Colson, who had never visited Israel before, was struck by how Rosh Ha’Ayin was newer and bigger than he thought.
He also commented on the incredible diversity among Israel’s citizens, and the booming economy.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell was originally to be on the tour, but had to remain in Birmingham due to tornado recovery needs.

For Colson, the trip was “a chance to see where friends live.”