Mark Eliyahu, special addition to Rita's bandMark Eliyahu, a special guest and addition to Rita's band for the night, opened the concert with a solo on the Kamancheh, a Persian stringed instrument.
Rita takes the stageAfter speeches from Ban Ki-Moon, Vuk Jeremic, and Ron Prosor, Rita took the stage with her first song, "Shane," which means comb in Persian.
Rita and her band on the U.N. stageRita's nine-piece band includes keyboard, bass and electric guitar, drums, percussion, clarinets, viola, and an accordion.
Jonathan Dror, member of Rita's band, on the ShofarJonathan Dror, a member of Rita's band, played a solo on the shofar, a traditional Jewish instrument.
Rita, Ariel Alaev on accordion, and Galia Hai on violaRita's music combines heavy influences from her Persian heritage with Western instruments and beats.
Rita on the U.N. stageRita, nee Yahan-Farouz, was born in Tehran and moved to Israel with her family when she was seven.
Jonathan Dror, Rita, and Zvika AlaevRita and her band showed their many talents by both singing and dancing, and encouraging the audience to do the same.
Rita and her band dance in the U.N. General Assembly HallThe concert featured songs in both Hebrew and Persian, and one in English called "Time For Peace."
Dancing in the aisles at the UNThe crowd did not stay in their seats, instead forming a mosh pit of sorts including Israelis, Iranians, and UN diplomats.
Rita and the U.N.Rita has released 12 studio albums, five of which went platinum.
Zvika Alaev and his father Ariel Alaev, members of Rita's bandZvika Alaev and his father Ariel Alaev were featured dancers with Rita.
Rita dances for the crowdRita also showed off her acrobatic skills.
Rita in front of the U.N. globeRita represented Israel in the 1990 Eurovision singing contest. Israel placed 10th that year.
Rita and the U.N."This concert is so electric that we're probably saving the UN thousands of dollars in heating bills," one official at the Israeli mission quipped.
Ambassador Ron Prosor and RitaIsrael's ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor presented Rita with a bouquet at the end, to which she said, "You're a dreamer. Thank you for making this happen."
A mosh pit might be the last thing you'd expect to see on the floor of the U.N. General Assembly Hall, with its carefully combed green rug and immaculately polished marble daises. But on Tuesday night that's exactly what happened there, including dancing Israelis, gyrating Iranians and ecstatic U.N. statesmen, all allowing themselves to be moved by the infectious Middle Eastern beats of popular Iranian-born Israeli singer Rita.
It was meant to be a concert to “bring individuals – and nations – closer together,” as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in his pre-show speech. Other pat lines about “weaving tapestries of music” and “music being an essential part of society” were heard from President of the Assembly Vuk Jeremić and Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Ron Prosor, who also provided the startling revelation that he used to sing in an all-U.N. diplomat a cappella group. He unfortunately did not name who the other members were, or offer a sample of his talents.
After the diplomats finished their incantations and odes to the power of music to bring people together, Rita finally took to the stage, and there was much rejoicing. The 50-year-old singer looks 30, and was wearing a neutral-tone fringe dress whose tassels twirled, spun and nicely complimented her dance moves.
These songs are all about love, Rita said, taking a rare break between songs to speak in her high, pleasant voice. She recounted bits of her childhood in Tehran, when her mother’s singing “filled the house with music.
“Persian is a dramatic language,” Rita told the audience. “There is a word for every little feeling you can have. They say in Israel that I am dramatic. I say they haven’t met my mother!”
All in all, the event was about as apolitical as an Israeli-sponsored event at the U.N. could possibly get. Israel’s Mission to the U.N. tweeted it was “the liveliest Jewish event in the UNGA since November 29, 1947!,” referring to the day when the general assembly voted in favor of adopting a plan for the future government of what was then called Palestine, and recognized the right of Jews to have a state there.
The Palestinian and Iranian missions were not present at the concert, not that anyone in the largely Hebrew-speaking, fur-wearing, diamond-sporting crowd minded. But individual Iranians were.
Watch Rita's full performance at the U.N. WebTV site.