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A unique event of the 51st Abu Gosh Vocal Music Festival (May 30th – June 3rd 2017) was Ensemble PHOENIX' “A Brazilian Requiem for a Portuguese Queen”, taking place at the Kiryat Yearim Church on June 3rd. PHOENIX is known for its performance of Renaissance-, Baroque- and South American music on authentic instruments. This program, researched and conducted by Brazilian-born PHOENIX founder and director Myrna Herzog, offered festival-goers a totally new listening experience, with the ensemble transformed into a full orchestra performing on period instruments from the Classical period.

Overseas guest artists soprano Sofia Pedro (Portugal), violinist Lilia Slavny and Brazilians - violinist Luis Otávio Santos (Brazil) and Classical bassoonist and cavaquinho player Ricardo Rapoport - were joined by Israeli soloists: mezzo-soprano Anne Marieke Evers (Holland-Israel), tenor Oshri Segev, baritone Yair Polishook and clarinettist Gili Rinot. Making up the playbill were the PHOENIX Ensemble instrumentalists and the Upper Galilee Choir (director: Ron Zarchi). Myrna Herzog expressed her appreciation to the Portuguese- and Brazilian Embassies for their support in bringing the four overseas artists.

From the opening sounds of José Maurício Nunes Garcia’s (1767-1830), orchestral overture, featuring virtuosic playing on the part of clarinettist Gili Rinot, one becomes aware of the downy, smooth textures of the Classical orchestra. It was followed by Damião Barbosa de Araújo’s (1778-1856) “Memento Baiano” (a prayer traditionally recited in the house of a person recently deceased) for choir and orchestra. The composer was Chapel Master in the Cathedral of Bahia, before moving to Rio, where the whole of this program takes place, around 1816. As to the work itself, the choir's careful diction and bracing tutti, colored with much highly expressive presence of the clarinet (Gili Rinot) highlighted its moods, its style indicative of the European influence on Brazilian church- and court music, both genres embraced by de Araújo.

Marcos Portugal (1762-1830) was not only the most prolific Portuguese-born composer ever, but also the most successful, both in Portugal and abroad (he died a Brazilian citizen). For Sofia Pedro's warm and appealing singing of Portugal's "Cuidados, tristes cuidados" (Worries, Sad Worries), featuring all four overseas guest artists, Herzog joined the players to play the 'cello in this tender and unabashedly sentimental modinha (traditional Brazilian love song). We also heard Pedro in "Qual piacere e qual diletto" (What pleasure, What Enjoyment) from Portugal's opera buffa "Oro non compra amore" (Gold Does Not Buy Love). Her luxuriant, easeful and substantial voice reached all corners of the Kiryat Yearim Church, as she eyed her audience, teasing it with the word-painting of the love-struck aria. Gili Rinot's playing of the clarinet obbligato role was suave and richly shaped.

Creating the flavor of Afro-Brazilian traditional dance, a smaller all-Brazilian ensemble of bowed and plucked instruments – Baroque violinist Luis Otávio Santos, accompanied by Ricardo Rapoport on the cavaquinho, with Herzog herself playing the rabeca (north Brazilian fiddle) – played a lundu, a flirtatious couple dance of typical Brazilian propulsive rhythm, its backing typified by alternating tonic-dominant harmonies.

With 2017 the 250th anniversary of the birth of the most important Brazilian colonial composer José Maurício Nunes Garcia, it was Myrna Herzog's aim to introduce his music to the Israeli public, with the Israeli premiering of his "Requiem for the Portuguese Queen Maria I, the Mad" (1816). Of this Afro-Brazilian composer and organist, the grandson of slaves, 240 works survive. When the Portuguese Royal Family took refuge in Brazil in March 1808, clerics who accompanied them tried to remove Garcia from his position because of his race. However, Padre José Maurício Nunes Garcia was one of the greatest exponents of Classicism in the Americas. Nunes Garcia's music was strongly influenced by Italian opera from the beginning of the 19th century. His membership in a literary society brought him into contact with a leader of the Brazilian struggle against Portuguese rule, and led him to add Brazilian popular music and folk music to his liturgical compositions. Nunes Garcia put into practice all the techniques and coloristic possibilities of the large orchestra he conducted. He also explored all the virtuosic possibilities of the excellent singers he had at his disposal. This Requiem is considered to be one of his most outstanding works. The composition, in the key of D minor, shows parallels in several places to Mozart’s Requiem, which Garcia himself directed two years later (1819) for the first time in Brazil. Myrna Herzog's performance of Garcia's Requiem presented its genesis and the rich possibilities of the work. Her large orchestra (although not numbering the 100 players Garcia had in his court orchestra) highlighted the score's vibrant colors. It included natural horns (Alon Reuven, Ruti Varon) still a rarity in Israel; no less rare were the presence of two Classical clarinets (Gili Rinot, Nurit Blum), two Classical bassoons (Ricardo Rapoport, Alexander Fine), Classical flute (Moshe Aron Epstein) and natural timpani (Nadav Ovadia). The result was an orchestral canvas of great richness and subtlety, offering as much interest to the players as to the audience. The Upper Galilee Choir gave a most impressive, finely detailed, well blended and meaningful performance, its choral sound fresh and flexible. The vocal quartet’s teamwork (Pedro, Evers, Segev, Polishook) produced a sympathetic and sensitive blend. Tenor Oshri Segev's full and mellow timbre and musicality were well suited to the work. Especially imposing was Yair Polishook's performance – his vivid mix of bass timbres, careful pacing and compelling dramatic sense drawing the listener with him into the work’s emotional fabric. Myrna Herzog's production of Garcia's Requiem was electrifying. Once again, she has introduced Israeli audiences to repertoire not previously heard in this country and in the most uncompromising and authentic manner. In this ground-breaking event of great interest and beauty, the audience was swept into the excitement experienced by the artists involved in the performance.

Photo: Ami Shamir

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On Thursday evening, July 20th, the Embassy of Colombia in Tel Aviv celebrated Colombia’s National Day, the anniversary of the signing of the country’s declaration of independence. The event was held at the beautiful home of Colombian Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Mr. Fernando Alzate Donoso, and  wife Mrs.Nancy, in Kfar Shmaryahu.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Wednesday, 19 July 2017), held a series of bilateral meetings with the heads of government of the Visegard Group: Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico. (Prime Minister Netanyahu met yesterday with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.)

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​PM Netanyahu: We face common challenges, the first of which is to defeat the forces of terror that rampage through the world and threaten both our countries. We must stand together in this battle, much as we work together to perfect the future.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, this evening (Tuesday, 4 July 2017), at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, hosted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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The EU Delegation in Israel and the Municipality of Tel-Aviv-Yafo presented:  Performance Europa!
Urban celebration of live performances and interactive installations
Tel Aviv’s White Night ,Rothschild 1 Plaza, 29 June 

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 On 11 June 2017, the 5thPhilippine Tourism and Country Fair organized by the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv,Municipality of Haifa and Castra Mall, opened in a festive atmosphere in the northern city of Haifa as the Philippines tries to sustain the rapid tourism growth from Israel.

During the one-day event, simultaneous activities on tourism and cultural promotion and highlights of the 60 years of strong bilateral relations between the Philippines and Israel were featured at the Castra Mall. Around 800 Israelis and Filipinos enjoyed the cultural program that showcased multi-awarded Filipino soprano singer, Ms. Francis Anne “Princess” Virtudazo, and the best talents from the Filipino community in Israel.

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Over 60 leading women from across the world joined together last month for a panel discussion showcasing Israeli females in the lead.
Organized by The Israel Project (TIP) and the Embassy of Cyprus in Israel, the event served as a platform to discuss and understand the challenges and opportunities facing women in Israeli society in the modern age.
Among the panelists were popular journalist Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes. Former IDF commander Miri Eisin and Israeli Olympic athlete Maayan Davidovich.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, today (Thursday, 15 June 2017), in Thessaloniki, at the third trilateral summit, signed joint statements for the continued strengthening of relations.

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A senior delegation from Tanzania, headed by Dr. Aloyce Nzuki, Permanent Secretary Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism, arrived in Israel for a series of meetings and events designed to increase cooperation with the Israeli tourist industry, and encourage Israeli tourism and investments to enchanted, exotic Tanzania.

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At a festive ceremony attended by Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, the Lauder Dormitory Building was inaugurated today at the Technion
state of the art building was donated to the Technion by World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder and his wife Jo Carole

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09 June 2017 – Jerusalem) The U.S. Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations Nikki Haley visited Yad Vashem today. The Ambassador was guided through the Holocaust History Museum by Dr. Robert Rozett, Director of Yad Vashem Libraries, participated in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, visited the Children's Memorial and signed the Yad Vashem Guest Book.

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President Reuven Rivlin today (Wednesday) met at his residence in Jerusalem with United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Nikki R. Haley.

President Rivlin welcomed her and said, “You are a dear friend of Israel. We appreciate your strong stand on the world’s most important stage, in support of the security of the people and the State of Israel. With your support we see the beginning of a new era. Israel is no longer alone at the UN. Israel is no longer the UN’s punching bag.”

He continued, “When I spoke at the UN on Holocaust Memorial Day, I said that the UN must learn from the lessons of the past, and stand up against hatred and racism. I said it must end its obsession with targeting Israel. Progress has been made. Israel’s standing at the UN has improved. But sadly, we have a long way to go. Both in holding to account, public statements made by officials, and in supporting regulation to reduce the ridiculous number of discussions and resolutions against Israel. This is also true in the Human Rights Council - which has been hijacked as a weapon against Israel - and in UNESCO, where they seek to rub out the history of the Jewish people.”

The President thanked the Ambassador for her great contribution to the State of Israel, and said, “Ambassador Haley, as the representative the US - Israel’s greatest and strongest ally - we appreciate very much your support of Israel, and all you do to stand up for the values of freedom and democracy which we share. Welcome to Israel, welcome to Jerusalem.”

Ambassador Haley thanked the President for his warm welcome and said, “Thank you Mr. President for taking the time to meet with us, it is an absolute thrill to be here in Israel, I so much appreciate the support we have received from the people of Israel. But I feel somewhat guilty because all I did at the United Nations was tell the truth. I have never taken kindly to bullies, and the UN has bullied Israel for a very long time, and we are not going to let that happen anymore. It is a new day for Israel in the United Nations. We just got back from Geneva, talking about the Human Rights Council and hopefully it will be a new day at the Human Rights Council when it comes to Israel.”

She concluded by saying she was greatly looking forward to her visit to Israel and said, “I am looking forward to taking in the history, the beauty, the tradition, and all that comes with the magic of Israel. Thank you very much for having me it is a pleasure to be here.”

Photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)

Friday was a beautiful late spring day; the gardens were lovely, the weather was fine; the guests were elegantly attired; the refreshments were generous and delicious; all the makings of a happy celebration marking the National Day of Sweden. H.E. Carl Magnus Nesser, ambassador of Sweden to the State of Israel, hosted the event at the ambassadorial residence in Herzlia Pituach.

The event was attended by many Swedish nationals living in Israel; Swedish music, Swedish food, Swedish sponsors and a generous open bar – all the makings of a happy event.

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A fundamentally agricultural holiday, Shavuot commemorates the custom of bringing offerings to the Holy Temple from the first fruits of the harvest and the first animals born to the flocks.

Shavuot, the Holiday of Weeks, is one of the three pilgrimage holidays, along with Pesach and Sukkot. These are the holidays on which the whole Jewish people would come to Jerusalem​ in ancient times, when the Holy Temple was there, and would offer animal and grain sacrifices.

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Tel Aviv Eat presents three evenings of tastings and workshops featuring the region’s leading restaurants and most prominent chefs. Entrance is free (including the chefs’ demonstrations), and tasting portions range in price from NIS 20-35. Doors open each evening at 18.00. There are several performance stages, live music, and stands selling beer.

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"Only when we remember the families who were torn apart from everyone they loved, who suffered that terrible darkness and evil, who had endured the unbearable horror of the Holocaust, only then can we prevent this agony from ever repeating." President Donald J. Trump

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