Under the Olive Tree



Immigration Museum
400 Flinders Street
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000
What's On

A Concert of Arabic and Jewish Music

A joyful musical celebration of what unites peoples and cultures.

Meet us under the olive tree to enjoy a melange of musical traditions and the individual stories behind Jewish and Arabic identities.

Entering its third year, Under the Olive Tree brings together two prominent communities in our cultural fabric, Arabic and Jewish, to showcase Middle Eastern music, superbly played on traditional instruments as well as contemporary songs and tunes from jazz and contemporary folk greats.

Experience a variety of intersecting musical traditions and explorations, performed by masters such as George El-Azar (percussion), Yuval Ashkar and Raed Mekha (oud), alongside the guitar of Adam Starr, violin of Ernie Gruner and Adi Sappir’s cello, joined by Lena Aziz, Eugene Matti, Tom Lee, Tony Hicks, Nela Trifkovic and Yasser AlAli.

For the musicians, the project offers social and political challenges as well as musical opportunities. These are accepted courageously as they delight in crossing divides to share their music and stories.

These stories told through music extend beyond conflict and difference to promote the strength of community and instil a sense of belonging.

Embark on this unique far-ranging journey of sound, from traditional to contemporary, in celebration of what unites people and cultures.

Under the Olive Tree is an all-ages concert hosted and supported by Immigration Museum, Besen Family Foundation, Australian Cultural Fund and Auspicious Arts Projects, presented in association with Victorian. And proud of it.


Ticket includes museum and exhibitions entry.

Adult $30
Concession $25
Under 25 / Child $20
MV Members $20
Family (2 adults, 2 children) $70

Get tickets via trybooking.com


Adam Starr
Adam Starr's music often features unusual orchestration and colour, resulting from a combination of original samples, the fusion of both digital technologies and acoustic instruments, and a jazz musician's bent for extended techniques. Melbourne-born Adam Starr studied film scoring at the Royal College of Music (London), and is now completing his PhD in composition at University of Melbourne, studying with Stuart Greenbaum. He performs as a guitarist with Frock and the Australian Jewish Music Ensemble, touring Europe, Asia and the Middle-East with these ensembles and others.

Raed Mekha
Raed Mekha is a multi-instrumentalist musician who holds a Master’s degree in music (Baghdad University). He is also the leader of Mesopotamia Group, a Middle-Eastern band based in Melbourne established with the vision of reviving classic Iraqi and Middle-Eastern music and sharing it with the wider Australian community. The band consists of 7 members (5 instrumentalists, 2 singers) and has performed at local and national events at Federation Square, Harmony Day Festival, Adelaide Film Festival and the opening of Hamer Hall.

Ernie Gruner
Ernie Gruner is Australia’s leading klezmer violinist and teacher, with bands including Klezmeritis. He was musical director for the Jewish theatre show “Exile and Ecstasy” which included klezmer and Sephardic music. He has performed and recorded with Sephardic bands Soleluna and Melisma. For over ten years Ernie was a member of Middle-Eastern ensemble Yalla! and as part of the Bohemian Nights duo, he has toured and recorded for near 20 years with a Balkan, Turkish and Gypsy repertoire. He was recently profiled in Seth Jordan’s book “World Music: Global Sounds in Australia” as a performer who has contributed significantly to the Australian world music scene.

George El Azar
Born and raised in Beirut Lebanon, George grew up immersed in traditional Middle Eastern music and culture. George's technique is influenced by authentic Arabic percussion fused with modernised Turkish technique to create his own unique sound. He travels frequently to further develop his musicianship learning from master teachers including Syrian born percussionist Faisal Zedan, Hakan Kaya and Izet Kizil from Turkey, and Rony Barrak from Lebanon.

Yuval Ashkar
Yuval is an Israeli composer, oud player, percussionist and internationally-acclaimed Middle Eastern musician. Yuval has evolved his unique style of oud playing through the synthesis of Turkish, Iraqi, Egyptian and North African musical influences and techniques. Yuval has worked with a large range of musicians both in Australia and Internationally. He has composed music for theatre and film, including a short film which won the European Short Film Festival.

Adi Sappir
Adi Sappir, a Melbourne based cellist and vocalist, delivers a musical fusion of East meets West. As an Israeli-Australian living in Melbourne, Adi composes lyrical stories reflecting her cultural background and personal experience. Adi was trained by two of Israel’s leading cellists and holds a Bachelor degree in Musicology from Bar-Ilan University. She has released 3 solo albums and performed in festivals such as Port Fairy and Adelaide Fringe Festivals, Jewish Writers Festivals, and in venues such as The National Gallery Victoria, Heide Museum of Modern Art and The Recital Centre. She has collaborated with various artists on a number of projects, including Under the Olive Tree concert series featuring the music of Jewish and Arabic cultures.