Music in Israel

🙂 Music in Middle East >

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Please check
🙂 Barenboim: Whenever I return to Israel, I have problems with Politicians & Media!!! (Jul 16, 2009)

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(Updated on FEBRUARY 3, 2009)
I’ve also been collecting all the articles about Music in Israel, but feel no need to post anything except the ones below. In sum,
1. Israel is a country of International Festivals, which are devouring all the working condition of local orchestra members. How many chamber music festivals are found in this small place? No one has time to go to the symphonic concerts. And then only selected members of Zubin Mehta’s special society enjoy luxurious life and they don’t live in Israel. They only sell their Jewish fame either to their Diaspora Sponsors or to International audience.
2. Simply, there are too many music schools in Israel. In this situation, two music school already means too many unemployed professionals. Local orchestra members can’t beat international participants in international chamber music festivals, which offer their X-rated music for nothing.

3. BUT THEN, Israel is also where one can find the purest human hearts and souls. JUST… When the Jewish Patriot Daniel Barenboim is going to smell the exact atmosphere of his country?

1. In Israel, 1/3 population can’t afford essential food items (Mar 31, 2008).
2. ‘In Israel, One in 5 needy considers suicide’ (Dec 10, 2008).: Latet organization warns humanitarian aid network could collapse in 2009.
3. Arab leader of workers’ party: Israel is no longer state of Jews, but of wealthy Feb 3, 2009 / By Haaretz
4. Zubin Mehta: In Israel, Money is endless. I have a list of people who can pay for ‘Renovation.’ Oct 21, 2008 / By Haaretz
[Q: There are never any Israelis among the new faces. Why?] – “There always are. In opera roles, for example.” [Q: But not as soloists or conductors in the most important concerts.] – “The bitter debate is over the audience. If you bring Israelis, the audience won’t come. That’s the prevailing opinion.” (…)
Mehta feels that the renovations of Tel Aviv’s Mann Auditorium, and the construction of the square and the parking lot there, have contributed to the decline in subscribers: “The renovations are causing the audience to give up. People have stopped coming because they have no place to park. When it’s finished, the situation will improve greatly, and if we had a new hall, it would be even better. In Los Angeles that’s exactly what happened. A hall with 1,800 seats is what we need, and we would fill it – not like the 2,700 seats we have here, which we have to fill as well as struggling with the acoustics every time.”
Mehta is referring to the plan for the Mann Auditorium to undergo a more radical change, which failed because of public opposition.
[Q: Renovation also costs money.] – “It’s hard to believe how much money there is in this country. It’s endless. I would have no problem getting $150 million to build the new auditorium, I have a list of people who can pay for it. I could similarly find a donor to pay $80 million to have the auditorium named after him; there are quite a number of people for whom that sum is negligible.”

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(Updated on JULY 13, 2009)
Still, it’s hard to understand the exact role or the reason of this institution, Jerusalem Music Center, which is NOT a music school, NOR belongs to the Jerusalem Music School. Anyway, this is what they say; ‘brings together the country’s most outstanding young musicians’

Who are going to train those youngsters? Bashkirova’s Jerusalem Quartet? Or Members of Bashkirova-Gang, who were kicked out of Barenboim’s DIVAN-project?

The Young Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to give two concerts Jul 12, 2009 / By Jerusalem Post
The Young Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which brings together the country’s most outstanding young musicians twice a year, will perform two concerts this month. Ze’ev Dorman will conduct the players on July 23 and July 24 in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 (Pastoral), Ravel’s Bolero and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.
The orchestra forms for two weeks in which the musicians live and work together under the auspices of the Jerusalem Music Center. Professional musicians join in training the novices.

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Music city May. 14, 2009 / By Jerusalem Post, Carl Hoffman
Music must rank as the highest of the fine arts – as the one which, more than any other, ministers to human welfare
– Herbert Spencer

Even if you were deaf and could not hear them, the very sight would amaze you. There is something awe-inspiring about upward of 500 musicians – young musicians, at that – seated together on one stage, arranged to form an enormous symphony orchestra. The outdoor stage itself is so vast that you can barely see the faces of the timpani, tuba and trombone players grouped at the orchestra’s farthermost rim.

Under a velvet black sky and a moderate breeze, the conductor taps his baton and the music thunders forth – mostly light classical and lively and popular pieces like Leroy Anderson’s “Bugler’s Holiday” and Tchaikovsky’s crowd-pleasing 1812 Overture. And as for the crowd, there are reported to be no fewer than an estimated 20,000 people here, occupying every available plastic chair and standing wherever there is room to stand. Not your usual symphony audience, they arrive pushing baby carriages and carrying small children on their shoulders; they eat homemade food out of plastic bags and Tupperware containers; they wave and shout greetings to one another, sometimes across several sections of seats; a few of them, mostly elderly, are waltzing in the aisles to the music. A bright moon rises as the night breeze becomes stronger and more chill, the colossal young orchestra plays mightily on, and everyone is having a marvelous time.

This is not the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performing an outdoor concert in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. This is the Israeli Festival of Youth Orchestras, performing in an outdoor plaza in Kfar Saba, as it has every May for the past two decades. The Festival marked its 20th anniversary between May 3-5, with three consecutive evenings of concerts, indoor and outdoor, featuring DOZENS OF YOUTH ORCHESTRAS FROM ALL OVER ISRAEL. The first evening was dedicated to symphony and percussion orchestras from conservatories and music centers throughout the country, and featured a special “all-Israel” symphonic youth orchestra. The second day saw a “marathon” of youth orchestras playing at Kfar Saba’s Cultural Center, followed by a jazz combo marathon around the fountain at Arim Mall. The festival closed on May 5 with the 500-member orchestra, delighting their 20,000 member audience with a concert that verged upon spectacle, replete with cannon blasts and fireworks.

Surprisingly enough, the Israeli Festival of Youth Orchestras was not the brainchild of a musician, but of a doctor, Dr. Shmuel Franco, who conceived and established the event in 1989 and continues to be its driving force. “Everybody calls me Shmulik!” he said with a smile as Metro caught up with him a couple of hours before the final concert. Indeed, almost “everybody” in Kfar Saba did, as the popular pediatrician exchanged waves and greetings that evening from scores of friends and acquaintances gathered over a lifetime of growing up, living and working in this small city. Aside from the army and his years studying medicine – first in Italy and then in Haifa – Franco, 63, has spent almost all his life in Kfar Saba.

And it was in Kfar Saba that Franco first had the dream, more than 25 years ago, of placing a musical instrument in every child’s hands and teaching him or her to play. Is he himself a musician? “No!” is Franco’s emphatic answer. “My father was in the British Army during the Second World War. When he came back, he schlepped home an accordion. He bought it in Italy. So I learned to play that accordion when I was a boy. Later, when I was 33, I learned to play the piano, and then when I was 44, I learned the saxophone. But a great player I’m not.”

Franco is a pediatrician, however, with 20 years of service as a senior physician at Meir Hospital under his belt, followed by 16 years of continuing private practice. And it was as a specialist in children’s health that Franco discovered the power of music. His moment of epiphany came in 1983, during a trip to Delft, Holland, and a visit with noted music teacher Pierre van Hauwe. “I learned from him the connection between music and the growing child. I realized for the first time how important music can be to child development,” Franco recalls.

From that point on, Franco was determined to create a youth orchestra in Kfar Saba. After several failed attempts, both on his own and as a member of the city council, Franco founded the Kfar Saba Music Foundation in 1986 in order to “penetrate” the school system and create elementary school orchestras.

“Since then,” he says, “we have caused a revolution in music education in Kfar Saba. In every school we have an orchestra, and programs for the first three grades. When the children enter fourth grade, they have a chance to join the orchestra. We give them the instruments and we organize their studies. So, in every elementary school in Kfar Saba there are two orchestras, one for beginners and one for advanced players. When they finish elementary school, they have an opportunity to enter the conservatory. Of course, not everybody finishes, but you can walk around Kfar Saba and hear a trumpet from here, a clarinet from there. The idea of the Festival came naturally three years later, because we had so many people playing instruments.”

While the 23-year labors of the Kfar Saba Music Foundation, and 20 years of youth orchestra festivals have made Kfar Saba’s residents proud of their “musical city,” Franco says, “We don’t expect, or even want, all of these children to grow up to be professional musicians. It’s just too hard to succeed in that world. But we discover talents. Many of the people who have grown up here have gone on to be famous on television and abroad. What we really want is for all of the children to learn the language of music.”

Indeed, for Franco, music has always been mostly a means to an end. “I believe in music education,” he says. “In just the first few years, you can influence the personality of a child and have a major impact on their life. We have many good things today in Israel, but one major thing that is lacking is discipline. A wonderful part of music is that it provides discipline. Every child on stage must listen carefully and pay 100 percent attention to the other musicians. He must listen to what is going on, and he must follow the lead of the conductor. He learns that by playing his instrument, he is performing a specialization within a larger system, just like in life.”

And it’s not just about discipline, Franco believes. “Music gives a child an appreciation for many other things. And this is if a child plays even the triangle. What is a triangle? It’s the cheapest instrument there is. But in an orchestra, it’s a specialization commanding the same respect as a tuba or first clarinet. This teaches mutual respect. Also, through music, we have had much success with children suffering from attention deficit disorder – ADD or ADHD. Some of the children changed completely – without Ritalin. All the excess energy went into the tuba. Other children, with low self esteem, through the music developed different personalities.”

Franco suggests that music education can have broader social implications, as well. “Young people now have too many things to do. They’ve got television, and all the programs and rubbish. So when you put a child into music activities, you are taking him away from the TV. In fact, you’re taking some of them from the streets. And you’re giving them some positive activity. This is very important from the point of view of management of society.” Franco pauses, smiles and says, “It’s like a kaleidoscope – the many faces of music education.”

One of those faces, the annual Israeli Festival of Youth Orchestras, has become a major social and cultural event in its host city of Kfar Saba. Franco explains: “Many people here never go to the concert hall. So we bring the music to the street. We attract people who normally have little exposure to a musical orchestra. We play special music. We cannot play heavy classical concertos. We play that at other events. But for this, we play music that makes them feel good; that makes them feel connected to the place. And they are very proud that Kfar Saba can achieve such a level of activity.”

Franco’s pride in Kfar Saba is evident. He smiles and says, “I want you to realize what a special place Kfar Saba is. There is no place like it in all of Israel. Where else could guys like me penetrate the schools and make a revolution in education?” Asked, “guys like what?” Franco immediately replies, “Meshugganers!”

Rising from his seat to attend to some last-minute details before the start of the concert, Franco carefully scans the neat rows of thousands upon thousands of empty white plastic chairs. As he hurries off, he stops just long enough to say over his shoulder, “In the early years, I was the one who put out all the plastic chairs.”

The Kfar Saba Music Foundation, or Keren Hamusika, is a non-profit foundation devoted to music education. To learn more, visit; Tel. 09-742-1805; or email .

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Not just a Yiddishe kop Feb 1, 2009 / By Haaretz, Noam Ben-Zeev

One of the most subversive experiments in the history of Israeli culture came to its end last week. The Israel Andalusian Orchestra from Ashdod, the unique project that challenged the prevailing Eurocentric musical culture in Israel, has been shut down. Its musicians and other employees, who dared to protest aloud and even go on strike because of their humiliating working conditions, were fired with the wave of a baton after months of struggle.
And it was not the Ashkenazi establishment that dismantled the orchestra, but the orchestra’s own management and the Ashdod municipality – including people who were among the founders of the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow Coalition, a social movement of Israeli Jews from Muslim countries, and orchestra founders like director Motti Malka and Ashdod Mayor Yehiel Lasri. Thus did orchestra members from Morocco and from the former Soviet Union all find themselves in the same boat. Both groups are oppressed and silenced.
A look at the other orchestras in Israel shows that the oppression of orchestra members did not begin with – and has not ended with – the Andalusian orchestra. Minimum wage earners (though in the Andalusian they did not make even that much) can also be found in the Jerusalem and Rishon Letzion symphony orchestras, and musicians who supplement their income by working as night watchmen can also be found in other orchestras. All of them have one thing in common: Even though they have devoted their entire lives to developing their art, and even though they have had to excel in order to be accepted into the orchestras, and even though their profession is their way of life, they earn a starvation wage.
Ostensibly, the reason for this is simple. There is no demand in Israeli society today for what orchestras have to sell, so classical music – be it Western or Eastern – that reaches toward profundity and transcends the cultural shallows in which society is wallowing is considered trivial, and funded accordingly.

But while the orchestras may seem not to have been getting funding, the Andalusian orchestra actually received NIS 3.2 million a year from the government – more than any other such organization, with the exception of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and its musicians were said to have earned more than any such musicians in Israel. That money – along with the income earned as it played hundreds of concerts at concert halls and schools across the country – should have caused the Andalusian orchestra to flourish. The question of why the orchestra collapsed under such circumstances remains controversial.

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JIWON: I don’t mean to criticize anything here. I just couldn’t understand all the situation in this small place, where so many Russian immigrants are thinking to suicide after finding no-job and musicians were part of them. And then, I also couldn’t understand Israeli public, who always preferred international title.

International X to play Red Sea festival
Jan. 13, 2009
Jerusalem Post staff , THE JERUSALEM POST
The 2009 Red Sea Classical Festival will be held this year from February 26-28 at Eilat’s Hangar, despite the difficult financial situation in the country and the world. Eilat’s mayor, Meir Yitzhak Halevi, approved the transfer of about NIS 1 million to the festival, hoping that it would bring tourists to the southern city.
The internationally renowned maestro X will direct the festival, bringing with him 270 musicians, soloists and choir members from Russian. The program includes works by Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev and Mahler.

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First Violin / A missing level in the pyramid August 08, 2007 / By Haaretz, Noam Ben-Ze’ev

The excitement was palpable at the entrance to Claremont Hall of the Buchman-Mehta School of Music, formerly the Academy of Music, at Tel Aviv University. The seats of the elegant concert hall, together with its balconies and aisles and steps, were chock-a-block two weeks ago with people; on the large stage sat 90 young musicians in festive dress, ready to play all orchestral instruments, including those rarely seen among young musicians – French horns, bassoons, contrabasses, violas and batteries of symphonic percussion instruments.

The first notes of Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dances” resounded in the silence, the most beautiful music heard in the concert halls for a long time. In the same way, Brahms’ Fourth Symphony was performed at the highest professional level, as was Mussorgsky’s virtuoso work “Night on Bare Mountain.” Where did this gigantic orchestra suddenly appear from? Who are these youths who have so much enthusiasm and whose eyes are filled with joy as they play?

The Young Philharmonic Orchestra is a joint venture of the Buchman-Mehta school at the university, directed by Tomer Lev, and the Jerusalem Music Center, under the direction of Hed Sela; and it did not grow from a vacuum: If one takes a few steps back and studies its context, one can distinguish its place among the country’s pyramid of orchestras.

For this purpose, one must go further north to the pastoral campus at Givat Haviva near Pardes Hannah where the summer courses of Matan – the Hebrew acronym for Mifal Hatarbut Ve’haomanut Leno’ar (the cultural and artistic project for youth) – are held. This is where six regional orchestras of string instruments were brought together during July under the batons of six conductors, altogether 80 children from junior high and high schools, and they were later joined by musicians on wind and percussion instruments to form the Matan Youth Symphonic Orchestra.

Musicians from the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) and the conductor Barak Tal worked with them from 9 in the morning until 8 at night with two full rehearsals, two separate rehearsals for string and wind instruments, and two rehearsals for groups of the smaller instruments. Every detail was polished, every professional problem was solved, every musical and artistic idea was developed; and together with the curiosity and the enthusiasm of the children, and the natural discipline that was being created in them, this symphonic orchestra came to life. The young musicians have the chance (for most of them for the first time in their lives) to play with a real orchestra.

Now the picture of the pyramid of orchestras is nearing completion. At its base are the conservatories, 40 in number, located in various parts of the country and in which children are taught the basics of music. On the next and higher level, there is Matan, which brings together those who want to play and are suited to playing, elementary orchestral music. The Young Philharmonic, together with academic studies for outstanding students and an excellent continuing education program at the music center, are the next stage; and the apex of the pyramid awaits these students in the future: playing with the IPO or a quality chamber music ensemble such as the Tel Aviv Soloists’ Ensemble or the Jerusalem Camerata.

But this is where the pastoral atmosphere ends and the beautiful picture turns ugly – because of an open hole, a threatening one, in this pyramid – a full level that is missing in the top part of the pyramid: between a body like the Young Philharmonic and other projects for outstanding students, and its apex, where one finds the elite orchestras of adults such as the IPO and the Tel Aviv Soloists. This is the layer of the beginning of professional life at the conclusion of their studies, the stage where the responsibility of the Israeli pedagogic establishment ends and the responsibility of the cultural establishment begins. If these youngsters dare to hold on at this stage to climb higher up the ladder, they will fall because it will collapse beneath them. If they dare to step on it as they climb higher, to advance, they will tumble.

Because what is waiting for them there, at the next stage? Will they join the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, which is being threatened with closure, or the Haifa Symphony, which has already been dismantled and reestablished and is now trying to get back on its feet, or the Ra’anana Symphonette, which plays at every event so that it will remain viable, or the Rishon Letzion orchestra , which is struggling to remain alive? To live on minimum wage, if one is to be paid at all, to play at all kinds of semi-cultural events under a directorship of a “temporary receiver”? Or to join the one of the weaker chamber orchestras suffering under imposed “rehabilitation plans,” whose members – unlike the enthusiastic youngsters who are full of love for music and ready to conquer the world – are disillusioned and bitter?

No, that is not an option. After the excellent education, with its abundant resources, they have received and after they have reached a high professional level, these musicians will not choose artistic suicide. Instead, they will decide to go abroad. Excellent professional orchestras, at the highest level, at the stage before the leading orchestras, await them in Germany, England and the United States; and the audiences abroad are the ones who will enjoy the fruits of their professional studies in Israel. In this way, a shining torrent of the brain-drain is developing here.

The challenge lies at the door of the government, which is also responsible, just as it is for education and health, for culture. Instead of “implementing a responsible and determined economic policy,” a definition that is mere camouflage for doing nothing and placing responsibility on the shoulders of the citizens, as the sociologist Shlomo Svirsky diagnosed it in one of his recent articles:

“The government’s responsibility is to rule: to examine the present, to bring options for the future, to set goals and to lead [us] to them. The State of Israel is not a short-term investment,” as Svirsky put it. It has to decide whether there is any need for the society to have musical education and musical performance; if not, then it should close down the orchestras and leave one representative orchestra for the elites, as is done in some of the neighboring countries; but if there is a need, then it must maintain them as needed, revive them and allow them to blossom.

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JIWON: I don’t mean to criticize anything here. In fact, I highly value the organizer of this festival and wanted to compare this with Elena Bashkirova’s trashy events, which were organized by Pigs and filled by their family members, who want to support their family members’ professional career. I wanted to post this article only because it is easy to smell atmosphere around Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. These local Israeli professional orchestra members just can’t beat international free concerts, starting from Dorit Beinisch and Elena Bashkirova’s International Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival. For them, watching one International festival in their neighbor means losing one-month of salary.

Separate sounds from Jerusalem Jun. 21, 2007 / By Jerusalem Post

Beginning tomorrow night, a consortium of mostly European sponsors will treat Jerusalemites to Sounding Jerusalem, two weeks of free chamber music concerts. In contrast to the annual International Jerusalem Chamber Festival, which opens the classical music season every September, this festival takes place in less-likely, less-traditional classical music venues, mostly in eastern Jerusalem and its environs.
Nearly double the size of last year’s inaugural Sounding Jerusalem, this year’s festival will showcase a number of contemporary Western works, some composed specifically for the festival. (…) It has the support of the European Commission, the U.S. embassy and a variety of organizations from Austria, Germany and France, and features European, American, Israeli and Palestinian performers.
(…) Most of the musicians will be arriving for the festival from Austria, and the few Palestinian and Israeli performers were not encouraged to collaborate
, despite the fact that participating artists will live and rehearse together at Jerusalem’s Austrian Hospice during the event. Asked why the shows are so distinctly separated, Huetter said that he “would like to have Israeli and Palestinian musicians play together, hug, and say ‘I love you,’ but political realities prevent this from happening. We want to bring music to the people in a neutral environment, so we won’t force performers of different backgrounds to work together.”
Huetter has performed in the past with Ramallah-based musical peace projects led by conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim, the founder of an Ramallah-based orchestra composed of young Arabs and Israelis.
Although Palestinians and Israelis do play together in Jerusalem, Huetter says this was not the festival’s primary objective.
Organizers also express concern that passport issues might hamper attendance at some concerts, with Palestinian and Israeli concertgoers and musicians facing likely difficulties in getting to venues in western Jerusalem and the West Bank.

For example, Israeli concertgoers will be unable to attend at least two events, including the festival’s headlining show: a sunrise concert on the Mount of Temptation in Jericho, where tickets include a cable car ride and breakfast (July 6).
Despite the accessibility issues, organizer Petra Klose expects to see a diverse audience at every performance – perhaps drawn by the several big-name, mostly Austrian, musicians coming for the festival. More than 3,000 visitors are expected at the concerts over the course of the festival.
All concerts are free of charge, but because a few indoor events have already reached capacity, reservations are recommended.

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Review: International X Chamber Music Festival Mar. 12, 2007 / By Jerusalem Post
(…) Marketing, both local and nationwide, seems to be the only problem of this young festival. The artists, who typically perform for sold-out houses all over the world, this time found themselves in a partially empty hall.

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Where have all the artists gone? Israeli artists are fleeing the country Jun. 22, 2006 / By Jerusalem Post
‘They treat us like parasites,” exclaimed veteran Israeli actor Yoram Hattab. “As if we were spoiled brats!” Hattab’s anger was directed at the government, and he wasn’t alone.
Participants in the Caesaria Conference’s panel on “Economy and Culture,” who gathered Tuesday to debate the government’s role in subsidizing and supporting the arts, frequently criticized the state for its cultural budget allocations – or lack thereof. (…) culture is the one budget that cannot be diverted or cut for the military. (…) Israelis – unlike Americans – are not able to deduct charitable contributions from their taxes, and therefore have less of an incentive to do so, placing a greater burden of sponsorship on the state. (…) “The bottom line,” she said, “is that we simply need more money.”

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