Saturday, March 31, 2012

Classical music events in the 2012 Israel Festival

The 51st Israel Festival will take place from May 23rd to June 14th, offering theatre, dance, jazz, events for children, world music and classical music in a variety of venues, most of them in Jerusalem. Artists from 12 countries will participate. Especially prominent this year will be works and artists representing Israel’s cultural relations with Czechoslovakia, as part of the “Days of Prague” Czechoslovakian Festival in Israel; it will take place in many venues, not just in Jerusalem. Prague is a bustling city, rich in its active and creative cultural life. The “Days of Prague” aims to bring the best of contemporary Czech culture to the Israeli public – the unique Forman Brothers Cabaret Circus, the DOT 504, a jazz collaboration between Czech- and Israeli players led by Jaroslav Jakobovits, the American-Czech multi-media project producing Verdi’s “Requiem” – the “Defiant Requiem” - telling the story of courageous Jewish prisoners in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp and the prestigious Kühn Choir of Prague, to mention only some of the events. The “Days of Prague” will be officially opened on June 5th by the Mayor of Prague, who will be visiting Jerusalem. The project represents cooperation between the Prague Municipality, the Jerusalem Municipality, the Israel Festival and the Czech Ministry of Culture, the Czech Embassy in Israel, Czech Centres, the Israel-Czech Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Czech Staropramen Brewery, the Czech Skoda Automobile Company and Israeli importer Champion Motors, and Czech Airlines. Artistic director of the “Days of Prague” project is Ms. Marina Sternova, cultural attaché to the Czechoslovakian Embassy in Israel.

Here is a short summary of classical music events at the 2012 Israel Festival:
For lovers of early music, there will be two visiting ensembles. “Musica Ficta” will present Latin American and Spanish music of the Renaissance and Baroque. Established in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1988, the group has won wide acclaim for its scholarly research and innovative approach to vocal- and instrumental performance of this lively genre. “Accentus Austria”, founded in 1992, is unusual in the fact that it focuses much on Spanish music, from the oral tradition of Sephardic Romances through art- and popular music from around 1500, to the richly majestic sacred and secular polyphonic music of the late 17th century. “Accentus Austria” also performs 16th- and 17th century music of the Austrian Empire.

The Romanian Cluz Choir will join soloists and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Meir Minsky (USA,Belgium,Israel) to present a work rarely performed - Franz Liszt’s oratorio “Christus” , one of the finest oratorios composed in 19th century Europe. A mammoth work, festival audiences will be invited to savor three hours of some of Liszt’s best writing. The Cluz Choir will also perform a concert of a cappella music. The Kühn Choir of Czechoslovakia will present a program of a cappella Czech music. Established in 1959, the Kühn Choir specializes in performing Romantic a cappella music, also placing importance on contemporary music.
Maestro Gil Shohat will conduct a marathon of performances by Israeli artists of Johannes Brahms’ chamber-, vocal and instrumental music; the traditional series of J.S.Bach works presented over three weekends will once again delight visitors to the Eden-Tamir Music Center (Ein Kerem). A complete day of concerts at the Jerusalem Theatre will feature students and teachers of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

One of the 2012 Israel Festival’s most important events will be the “Defiant Requiem” – Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem at Terezin; this specific presentation of it, created by Murry Sidlin, who will also be conducting the work, will be performed by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Kühn Choir of Prague, soloist singers Ira Bertman, Yotam Cohen, Assaf Levitin and Bracha Kol, with actors Sasson Gabai and Yona Elian. The multi-media event reveals the story of courageous Jewish prisoners in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp who formed a choir under the direction of fellow prisoner Rafael Schächter, performing Verdi’s Requiem 16 times as an act of defiance and resistance to their Nazi captors. In addition to a full performance of Verdi’s Requiem, the present program includes video testimonies from members of the original choir, Nazi propaganda and film footage made at Theresienstadt. A powerful performance carrying a message of hope, it has been performed several times, including three performances in the grounds of the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp itself.

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