Saturday, July 17, 2010

The annual gala concert of the Moran Choirs at the Tel Aviv Museum

The 2010 Annual Moran Choirs Gala Concert was held in the auditorium of the Tel Aviv Museum July 5th. The evening hosted the Friends of the Moran Choir, proceeds going to the in-depth musical and artistic training invested in each choir member, as well as to the Moran Organization’s several outreach programs. The original Moran Choir was established by Naomi Faran in 1986 at Beit Itzhak, Emek Hefer (an agricultural region in the centre of Israel, situated between Netanya and Hadera). Naomi Faran continues in her capacity as musical director, there now being four separate choirs – the Moran Little Ones Choir (for children aged 5 to 8; they did not take part in the evening’s concert), the Moran Youth Choir (for children aged 8 to 11), the Moran Choir (comprising of some 50 singers between the ages of 12 and 18) and the Moran Singers Ensemble whose members include graduates of other Moran choirs, Academy of Music students and soldiers from the Outstanding Musicians Program. The two more advanced choirs perform widely in Israel and overseas.

Words of welcome were expressed by chairman and president of the Moran Choirs committee Mr. Shmuel Ben Dror, by president of the Emek Hefer regional council Mr. Rani Idan and by Naomi Faran herself. Faran spoke of singing as promoting love and happiness, as training young people in the art of listening and as giving them self-confidence. Faran thanked all members of her staff for investing their talents and devotion in all four Moran choirs.

The concert began with Israeli composer Aharon Harlap’s (born 1941,Canada) “Jephtha’s Daughter” for horn and chorus, performed by the Moran Singers Ensemble, with Sharon Polyak playing the horn solo. An intense and moving work, choir and soloists presented its narrative and drama with articulate diction, Polyak’s playing shaped and highly expressive. Opera arias featured soloists from the Ensemble – Hadas Faran-Asia in a convincing, beautifully controlled presentation of “Il faut partir” (One Must Part) from G.Donizetti’s “Daughter of the Regiment” and soprano Alexandra Falkovsky with tenor Liran Koppel in “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici” (Drinking Song) from Verdi’s La Traviata. Joined by the Ensemble singers, the latter aria was charmingly staged. On a different note, “Yad Anuga” (A Delicate Hand), an oriental melody to a poem by Zalman Shneur, was given an exotic and theatrical reading by mezzo soprano Doris Nemni, who sang to the accompaniment of a drum. The Moran Singers Ensemble presented a number of Israeli songs, some of the arrangements tastefully created by composer Eyal Batt, the Moran Singers Ensemble’s home pianist.

The Moran Singers Ensemble was joined by singers from the Nitzan Onim Center, Kfar Saba (a residential facility for young adults with learning, functional and adaptive disabilities) to perform a medley of songs originally sung by the Israeli comedy group Hagashash Hahiver (The Pale Tracker), and perform they did! The audience loved every moment of this polished, musical and whimsical performance. Ofir Nuriel, a student of the Nitzan Onim Center, read one of the poems from a collection of his poetry soon to be published.

The Moran Youth Choir, a girls’ choir conducted by Sharon Ram, sang Idan Raichel’s (b.1977, Israel) song Mai Nahar (River Waters) arranged by Rani Golan (resident composer of the Moran Youth Choir).
‘Flowing waters of the river
These are the days of your life
Washed in the current
That begins with the first rain…’
Under the Sharon Ram’s expert guidance, this choir, most of its members being little girls aged eight to eleven from the Ethiopian community, produced a pleasingly velvety choral sound as they moved to the music. The Moran Youth Choir meets children from the Tokayer Boarding School at Kibbutz Bachan (a facility for at-risk youth) participating in joint activities. We heard the two groups collaborating in part of “Sar HaYeladim” (Leader of the Children), a musical play written for them by Avi Greinik and set to music by Rani Golan. It is based on Leah Goldberg’s story of the same name.

The Moran Choir’s competence and musicianship (singers from age 12 to 18) were obvious in a variety of songs they performed: two Hebrew songs: one poem by children’s author Yehuda Atlas set to music by Eyal Batt, the other, a choral arrangement of Israeli composer Yossef Hadar’s (1926-2006) “Hof Shaket” (Quiet Beach). Dedicated to Hadar’s memory, the work was heard in a richly blended choral sound. Etz HaLivneh (The Birch Tree) is a Russian song; arranged and performed superbly, with a gentle balalaika effect in the background, the solo in it was sung poignantly in Russian by one of the girls. An entertaining and strikingly different concert piece was an African song, performed with movements, vocal effects and drum accompaniment, giving it an authentic feel. From the Romantic repertoire, we heard “Removal of the Spells” from F.Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opus 61(1843). It was musically and visually pleasing, with soloists Shira Kravitz and Adi Zur delighting the audience.

One of the Moran Choir’s community projects is singing together with pediatric cancer patients at the Schneider Children’s Hospital. Another is singing with special needs teenagers from the Dana Club of “Shafririm” – the Institute of Special Education – at Kibbutz Giv’at Chaim. These youngsters were joined by the Moran Choir to perform two songs. In the second, “Angel”, the young singers donned white gloves, accompanying the text with its equivalent in sign language. Soloists were from both vocal groups. It was a touching moment, one attesting to the joy of singing, to Naomi Faran’s meaningful message of togetherness, of all being part of the wider community. All vocal ensembles joined together for the final song “Hine,hine” (There it Goes Again) - words by Ehud Manor, music Matti Caspi.

Naomi Faran’s work brings her staff of fine music educators together with many children and young adults. Choir members receive vocal training, lessons in music theory, acting and movement. The young singers are disciplined and focused. They show respect for the wide gamut of musical repertoire they are exposed to and for the human voice and they show respect for each other. The results heard and seen attest to the culture singing instills in a person. Naomi Faran is touching many lives.

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