Sunday, July 8, 2018

An event hosted by Swedish Ambassador Magnus Hellgren to honour the Erik Westberg Vocal Ensemble and the Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra

H.E. Magnus Hellgren addresses guests (courtesy Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra)

A festive evening was hosted by the H.E. Magnus Hellgren, the Swedish Ambassador in Israel at his Herzliya residence on Monday July 2nd 2018 to honour the Erik Westberg Vocal Ensemble and the Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra. On arriving, guests and artists enjoyed the opportunity of meeting and talking over a glass of wine in the garden prior to a summer meal and the evening’s program. As to the NKO’s strong Swedish connection, renowned conductor, trombonist and composer Christian Lindberg is the orchestra’s musical director, with mandolin artist Shmuel Elbaz, present at the event, serving as the NKO’s principal conductor. The Erik Westberg Vocal Ensemble was in Israel to take part in the orchestra’s last concert for the season - “When the Public Decides”.


The event’s official proceedings began with greetings of welcome from the Ambassador himself. Deputy Mayor of Netanya Eli Dellal spoke of the importance the city of Netanya addresses to culture and to music, in particular. Maestro Lindberg also spoke. All were unanimous in the role that music plays in our lives - to bring people together. Maestro Westberg expressed his delight at being in Israel with his singers. They then performed a number of pieces, some unaccompanied, other accompanied either by Lindberg, or on the piano or by members of the NKO. The program presented guests with a delightful taste of the gentle melodies and velvety harmonies of Swedish music in arrangements of Swedish folk songs and works by Swedish composers. One interesting item on the program was a piece integrating “Hatikva”, the Israeli national anthem, with a similar melody of a beautiful Swedish folk song. Referred to by Maestro Lindberg as “one of the world’s best choirs”, the Erik Westberg Vocal Ensemble was founded in 1993 and consists of some twenty voices, bringing together experienced, top-class singers, all of whom hail from Sweden and Finland. Basically an a-cappella ensemble, its signature sound strikes a splendid balance between the singers’ individual vocal timbres and a well-blended choral sound. In addition to many overseas tours, it has recorded over twenty discs. As of 1990, Erik Westberg has mostly worked at the LuleĆ„ University of Technology/School of Music in PiteĆ„ as professor of musical performance.


The Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra performs over 120 concerts yearly, with each program presented in eight locations the length and breadth of Israel. Throughout the 47 years of its existence, it has toured the USA, China, Mexico, Germany, Italy, France, South Korea, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Croatia, Great Britain, Switzerland, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia and Peru. It also retains a prestigious recording schedule. In addition to its concert activity, the NKO runs an extensive educational program, of which guests at the festive event were given a taste. We heard an ensemble of young Netanya string players in a well-coordinated and informed performance of a Vivaldi movement. The young, competent musicians were using Baroque bows, which had been supplied by Spiccato.


Retiring to the garden following the concert, guests were presented with some spontaneous singing of more Swedish songs by ensemble members. Singing is joy! For most of the choir members it was their first trip to Israel.

The Erik Westberg Vocal Ensemble (photo:Tone Antonsson)

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