Monday, May 19, 2008

Early Music in This Year's Israel Festival

The Israel Festival 2008, with most events but not all taking place in Jerusalem, begins May 24. Artists performing will be from 11 countries. People interested in Early Music will be happy to know that they will have a number of interesting concerts from which to choose.

“The Sepharadi Diaspora” (Spain-Israel) will be an interesting event of Renaissance music. Jordi Savall, musical director of the renowned Hesperion XXI, has researched the music tradition of the Jews expelled from Spain in the 15th century. This concert will include melodies and songs from Morocco, Sarajevo, Sophia, Salonika, Turkey, Rhodes, Alexandria and Jerusalem. Hesperion XXI will be joined by Israeli Yair Dalal on oud. This concert will take place June 5, 20:30 in the Henry Crown Symphony Hall, the Jerusalem Centre of the Performing Arts. A meeting with Jordi Savall, moderated by Yossi Maurey, will take place at the Jerusalem Music Centre, Mishkenot Sha’ananim, on June 5 at 1500.

Jordi Savall and Yair Dalal have been performing together for the last 10 years. “Jerusalem, City of Heavenly and Earthly Peace” is a special project carried out by Savall, Dalal and singer Montserrat Figueras. Taking part will be Hesperion XXI, the Capella Reial de Catalunya Choir and Israeli and Arab musicians, including shofar players, sufi musicians and a Psalm singer! The program celebrates Jerusalem’s Jewish, Christian and Moslem heritage. This concert will be at the Henry Crown Symphony Hall June 4, 20:30.

Les Arts Florissants (France) will be making its Israeli debut in this year’s Israel Festival. Performing on period instruments, the group will be presenting works by G.F.Handel - Zadock the Priest”, “Ode for St. Celia’s Day” - and “In Exitu Israel” by French composer and violinist Jean-Joseph Cassanea de Mondonville (1711-1772.) “In Exitu Israel” (Psalm 113), composed in 1753, is one of the composer’s nine surviving “grands motets”, a genre brought to a peak of interest and drama by Mondonville. Paul Agnew, known to many of us as an outstanding countertenor, will be conducting “Les Arts Florissants”. The ensemble will number some 60 players and singers. This festive event will take place at the Jerusalem International Convention Centre June 22, 20:30.

Accordone (Italy) in a program titled “Via Toledo” will perform Renaissance and Baroque music from southern Italy. The ensemble has researched traditional songs passed down from generation to generation by farming families of the region. Southern Italy was ruled by Spain for 300 years as of the 16th century, hence the name of this program. Tenor Marco Beasley will be well worth hearing; the Accordone group will be performing on period instruments and with a theatrical approach. This event will be on June 7, at 21:00 in the Henry Crown Symphony Hall, Jerusalem centre of the Performing Arts.

Israeli artists Michael Meltzer and Yael Meltzer (recorders), Zvi Plesser (‘cello) and Boris Kleiner (harp) will present “Bach Plus”, a concert of Bach trio-sonatas, suites and duets and…a chorale prelude on a song about Jerusalem. The latter might just arouse your curiosity and will, indeed, be interesting and different. For a relaxing, Friday noon performance by fine local artists in beautiful, leafy surroundings, Ein Kerem is a world of its own. This event will be at the Targ Centre, Ein Kerem, June 6, 12:00.

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