Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Romanian artists join the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in a gala concert to celebrate the 2019 National Day of Romania

Photo: Silvia Golan
In Israel, the Romanian Cultural Institute (Tel Aviv) organizes an annual event for Romania’s national day - December 1st. The 2019 celebration was festive in a different way, thanks to the new collaboration between the Institute and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. So, on December 1st, with members of the JSO seated on the stage, the Jerusalem Theatre’s Henry Crown Hall filled to capacity for an evening of music by Romanian composers, performed by Romanian conductor Ionit Pascu, six soloists from Romanian opera houses and a Romanian panpipe player. Mr. Yair Stern, chairman and CEO of the JSO, opened the event with words of welcome, to be followed by Mr. Marton Salamon, director of Romanian Cultural Institute, Tel Aviv, who spoke of the new connection forged with the JSO as the beginning of a felicitous collaboration. He explained the nature of the evening’s program - mostly older Romanian songs in new settings as reappraised by Maestro Pascu.


A composer whose songs featured on the program was Gherase Dendrino (1901-1973) who wrote the operetta “Lăsați-mă să cânt” (Let me sing!)  in celebration of 100 years of Ciprian Porumbescu’s birth. It revolves around the figure of Porumbescu himself, the first Romanian composer to have ever written an operetta that would be performed and published; Porumbescu called his work “Crai nou” [New Moon]. We heard two arias from Porumbescu’s operetta. Figuring largely throughout the program were songs of Tiberiu Brediceanu (1877-1968), who had served as general manager of the Bucharest Opera House. His compendium included songs and ballads, he published a collection of 170 folk melodies and wrote several works based on Romanian folk songs. The evening was filled with much popular- and operetta repertoire - stirring solos, duets and ensembles - works clearly familiar to- and heartily enjoyed by audience members of Romanian origin, but also attractive to others of us to whom the repertoire was new. The songs were presented by six of Romania’s most prominent singers - sopranos Mirela Grădinaru, Madeleine Pasen and Aida Pascu, mezzo-soprano Alina Dragnea, tenor Andrei Manea and bass Ștefan Ignat. 


Adding colour and pizzazz to the evening was Dalila Cernătescu’s virtuosic playing of the Romanian pan pipes. Unfortunately, we did not hear enough of renowned classical guitarist Bogdan Mihăilescu, with his playing drowned out by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra’s exuberant sound. Cheerfully leading all throughout the evening was Maestro Ionut Pascu, a baritone soloist at the Bucharest National Opera who also performs in opera houses in Europe, China and South Korea. As of 2011, he has soloed extensively with the Israeli Opera. 


No comments: