A Brown Folder – Homage to Felix Bloch

Curator: Ruthy Lubin

27. 1. - 28. 2. 2017: Gallery On The Fence, 23 Zeitlin, Tel Aviv

 


“During my visit to “Beit Theresienstadt”, my eyes were caught by a harrowing work of the artist Felix (Ferdinand) Bloch. The picture he drew in 1943, about a year before he was tortured to death, depicts daily life in the ghetto. Felix Bloch, a graphic designer by profession, described symbolically through an impressive sketching technique an episode of chaotic life that had taken place between the ghetto walls. What caught my attention, and to a great extent gave dramatic meaning to the whole picture, was the format Felix Bloch has chosen for his work.
This choice, of course, was not question of his preference but rather stemmed from complete lack of choices. Felix Bloch, who worked at the “Drawing Office” of the Technical Department in ghetto Theresienstadt, simply used an old brown cardboard folder, this was the only “paper” he had. In secret he sketched a visual text, silent testimony, depicting the horrors he had to go through in Theresienstadt. His drawings, later on, served as an evidence during the trials of the Nazis.
 

                                                                                                           
Many artists from Israel and from abroad, such as Shalom Neuman, Rafi Baler, Doron Polak, Esther Beer Percal, Tamar Hirschl, Oshrat Bentor, Bracha Guy, Miriam Shalev, Lea Dolinsky or Edna Elstein
have paid, by their artistic expression, a tribute to Felix Bloch. The only thing they should respect was the basic material – brown cardboard folder. By using various techniques such as print, photography, drawing, collage, readymade, etching, relief, working in oil and acrylic they created a very impressive exhibition arousing memories and pains. Moreover, they honored, in their special way, this gifted artist who perished in the holocaust. This exhibition helped to fulfill the genuine intention of Bloch’s work, i.e. to show to the entire world the real face of the Ghetto.”
Ruthy Lubin
 
Felix (Ferdinand, Friedrich) Bloch was born on August 8, 1898 in Koenigswart (Kynžvart in Czech), Czechoslovakia. Before the war he worked as a graphic designer in Vienna, then in 1938 he emigrated to Milan, Italy, but in the end returned back to Prague. There he worked for the Jewish community teaching classes about graphics of propaganda. On July 30, 1942 he was deported with the transport Aav to Ghetto Theresienstadt where he joined the drawing office at the Technical Department. As many other artists he was drawing in secret, mostly trying to document the daily life in the Ghetto. On July 17, 1944 he was arrested together with a few other artists, transferred to Small Fortress Prison and blamed for „atrocity propaganda“. In reality the artists did try to smuggle their works out of the ghetto but unluckily were caught. Bloch was cruelly tortured and died in the prison on October 31, 1944.
 

 

The Beit Theresienstadt Museum, Kibbutz Givat Chaim Ichud, Emek Chefer was established by an association of survivors of the Ghetto Theresienstadt. The exhibitions are based on documentary material from the Ghetto preserved in its archives. There is also a very active Education Center that tells, in many various ways, the story of Ghetto Theresienstadt to the public.
 

 
The exhibition is a contribution to the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The original works will be presented in September 2017 in The Ghetto Museum of Terezin Memorial in the Czech Republic.
 
Photo Courtesie Czech Centre Tel Aviv
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

The 2017 Eilat Chamber Music Festival will take place from February 1st to 4th at the Dan Eilat Hotel. To all intents and purposes, the hotel’s Tarshish Hall and the Big Blue Hall will serve as concert halls for the duration of the festival. At the press conference held at the Dan Hotel

Tel Aviv on January 12th, those attending were offered a glimpse into the captivating program awaiting festival-goers. Speaking at the meeting, Eilat mayor Mr. Meir Yitzhak Halevi, CEO of the Dan Hotel chain Mr. Raffi Sadeh and festival founder and musical director Mr. Leonid Rozenberg made mention of developments regarding the festival, in the city of Eilat and of the contribution the Dan Hotels make to the success of the Eilat Chamber Music Festival. Ms. Hayuta Dvir, known to many as a presenter on Israeli radio, especially of the Monday afternoon Etnachta concert series at the Jerusalem Theatre, spoke of the warm cooperation between all who make the festival a reality and of the value of its educational programs: from January 29th to February 4th, serious young string players, pianists and trumpeters will be studying with some of the festival artists, a stepping-stone to furthering their musicianship and technical skills. In another educational program – the Vienna Tel Aviv Vocal Connection – sopranos Sylvia Greenberg (Vienna Conservatory, Munich Hochschule) and Rosemarie Danziger (Cornell University, Mannheim Faculty) and pianist David Aronson (assistant conductor Vienna State Opera, Vienna Conservatory) will coach young singers who are aiming for a professional career.

 

 

 

 

An extra dimension to this year’s Eilat Chamber Music Festival will be an exhibition of artwork by Nevo Afek, an almost-blind, high-functioning autistic young man. Merav Afek, Nevo’s mother spoke of the artistic talent Nevo has displayed and of the young artist’s aim - to inspire people with his artworks.

 

With the rich choice of splendid concerts, festival-goers are going to have a hard time choosing which to attend…or perhaps which not! Pianist and conductor David Greilsammer will be back with his orchestra – the Geneva Camerata – this year to be joined by the great Russian-born violinist Viktoria Mullova. Greilsammer and the Geneva Camerata will present the Israeli premiere of Swiss composer Martin Jaggi’s “Uruk”. From France, the young, prize-winning Van Kuijk Quartet will perform French music and Schubert and will introduce the audience to Japanese composer Akira Nishimura’s string quartet “Pulses of Light”, then to be joined by Israeli pianist Amir Katz to perform César Franck’s Piano Quintet in F-minor. A treat in store for Baroque aficionados will be the Gabrieli Consort & Players, with their musical director and conductor Paul McCreesh; British soprano Gillian Webster will solo with them in Händel’s magnificent Italian cantata “Donna, che in ciel di tanta luce splendi”, written to celebrate the deliverance of Rome from the earthquake of 1703. And with the festival moving “outside the box” for Concert No.19, the Geneva Camerata will be joined by French jazz pianist Jacky Terrasson in a concert combining classical works, jazz and Israeli composer Jonathan Keren’s Variations on Gershwin’s “I Got Plenty of Nuttin”.

 

No new face to the Eilat Chamber Music Festival, pianist Amir Katz, in a daring and challenging program, will take the listener with him into the beauty and intricacies of Liszt’s music. 28-year-old Italian pianist Federico Colli will perform works of Domenico Scarlatti and Beethoven and, on his first Israeli visit, 15-year-old Alexander Malofeev from Russia will give a recital of mainstream works, with some piano repertoire discoveries.

 

Chamber music concerts will feature such world-renowned artists as violinists Marianna Vasileva (Israel/Russia) and Grigory Kalinovsky (USA), violist Mikhail Bereznitsky (Russia/Montenegro), ‘cellists Hillel Zori (Israel) and Martti Rousi (Finland) pianists Rena Shereshevskaya (Russia) and David Aronson (USA). 

 

Festival audiences will welcome back Canadian jazz trumpeter Jens Lindemann; in two exhilarating concerts, he will be performing with Israeli- and overseas jazz artists: keyboard player Kristian Alexandrov (Bulgaria/Canada), bassist Jeremy Coates (Canada), Israeli percussionist Gilad Dobrecki and pianist Guy Mintus, an Israeli boundary-crossing pianist, composer and educator living in New York.

 

And to an upbeat, uniquely Israeli and entertaining event: in a concert of new arrangements of several of his songs, Israeli songwriter Alon Olearchik (voice, piano, guitar) will be joined by violinist Yulia Klein, violist Daniel Tanchelson and Yoed Nir (‘cello).  Olearchik’s natural and communicative manner and humour make it a pleasure (and a must) to follow every word of his lyrics, to smile and to remember with nostalgia what was…or what might have been.

 

 

 

 

And for the children and us adults who treasure the memory of childhood, clown and actor Fyodor Makarov will present much fun and information in “SchMozart” (Concert No.9). Singers of the Vienna-Tel Aviv Vocal Connection, sopranos Avigail Gurtler Har-Tuv and Roxana Mihai, baritone Robson Bueno Tavared and instrumentalists will provide plenty of fine music by W.A.Mozart.

 

Photos  :

1- Fyodor Makarov (photo courtesy the Eilat Chamber Music Festival) 

2-  by Andy Gabrieli Staples

3- by Sivan Farag

 

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Two outstanding organizations were represented at the gala benefit concert for the Yad Elie Foundation, which took place at the Jerusalem International YMCA on January 1st, 2016.  The musical program was provided by Chen Zimbalista and the Music Factory.

Yad Eli, established by Marion Kunstenaar in 2002 in memory of Elie Saghroun, provides meals for needy Jerusalem school children, feeding 500 Arab- and Jewish children on a daily basis. It sets up educational programs to teach children about nutrition and health, creating a forum where Jewish and Arab participants can think, work and benefit from each other. Rabbi David Lilienthal serves as chairman of Yad Elie.

 

Directed by world-renowned marimba player and percussionist Chen Zimbalista, the Jewish-Arab youth orchestra – the Music Factory – was established four years ago. For the Jerusalem concert, it was joined by members of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Beer Sheva Sinfonietta and mezzo-soprano Noa Hope. The concert was preceded by the three-day Music in Omer Festival, consisting of open rehearsals, master classes and concerts. Taking place at the Open Museum in the Industrial Park of the southern town of Omer, this was the second of its kind involving the Music Factory and run by the charismatic Zimbalista. With the high standards of performance and nurturing of Zimbalista, an educator and social activist for bringing together children and youth from city and periphery in high-quality music-making, the 12- to 18-year-olds attending the festival were instructed by renowned teachers, who then joined them to play together in the youth orchestra.

 

The program included finely-crafted orchestral playing of movements from cardinal works of symphonic repertoire and some chamber pieces, these punctuated by Zimbalista’s dashing, stylish and virtuosic marimba playing. For the performance of works of J.S.Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Bizet, Ravel and Piazzolla, the role of concertmaster alternated between some of the orchestra’s outstanding teen violinists. Introducing Ravel’s “Bolero”, Zimbalista explained that the composer had written it as an exercise for orchestra. With Zimbalista on drum, the players gave a beguiling reading of Evgeny Levitas’ shortened version of the “Bolero”; among the fine small solos, a very young boy – Negev Almog -  gave a richly sonorous and most impressive performance of the flute solo.

 

Of the chamber works on the program, we heard ‘cellists (and Music Factory tutors) Adiel Schmidt and Erich Oskar Huetter (Austria) in some delicate, imaginative and subtle playing of two movements from a Telemann work. Another enjoyable item was the playing of an arrangement of the subject and three of the variations from Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” elegantly presented by Asher Belchman (violin), Lara Karpalov (viola) and E.O. Huetter (‘cello). (Huetter, having visited Israel several times, has been involved in similar music projects with Arab youth.)

 

Contending easily and naturally with the orchestra, guest artist mezzo-soprano Noa Hope took players and audience to the world of opera with “Voi che sapete” (You who know what love is) from Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro”, her creamy, substantial voice well integrated with her communicative stage performance. Hope’s dramatic and colourful rendition of the Habanera from Bizet’s “Carmen” displayed her dynamic range, well supported by the competence, accuracy and fine listening skills of the Music Factory players.

 

The festive concert concluded with two works of tango composer Astor Piazzolla, a rich and soundscape of captivating Argentinean rhythms, yearning and joy. Adding to the nostalgic yet life-affirming atmosphere of this music,  young accordionist, Uri Ofek, relaxed and smiling, wandering across the stage in front of the orchestra, had the audience enthralled by his competence and professionalism.

 

Throughout the evening, Chen Zimbalista introduced the evening’s artists and works with cheerful informality. Conducting, performing with them and soloing, he directed both young- and experienced players in a vibrant program of outstanding orchestral playing, promoting the harmony of co-existence.  

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Photo: Angelika Sher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Israel Opera’s current production of Lucia di Lammermoor, by the 19th century composer Gaetano Donizetti, is a real treat for opera lovers, thanks in large part to the bravura performances of the work’s signature arias: the sextet at the end of Act 2, and Lucia’s “Mad Scene” in Act 3.

 


The role of Lucia was sung at the January 17th premiere in Tel Aviv by the renowned Spanish soprano Maria Jose Moreno, who was making her Israeli debut after having performed in the leading opera houses of Europe. Moreno’s superlative rendition of the famous aria “Il dolce suono” -- combining vocal mastery with acting virtuosity -- had the audience spellbound, and earned the artist sustained applause long before the final curtain calls.

 


The two female flautists who participated in the unique counterpoint of the cadenza with Moreno were also outstanding. Noteworthy as well, albeit in a lesser role, was the impressive tenor Guy Mannheim, as Normano.

 

 

 
 

The staging was remarkable in its own right: reflecting the somber nature of the plot, black was the predominant color -- in both the scenery and costuming -- giving the effect of watching a production in black-and-white (Lucia was the sole person on stage clad in white). When color was introduced, it was, rather appropriately, blood-red.

 


The role of Lucia alternates between the visiting Moreno and Israel’s own Hila Baggio. Lucia di Lammermoor runs at the the Israel Opera House through February 3, 2017.

 

 

 

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Fax: +972-3-692-7733

 

 Photos ;   Yossi Zwecker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

On Friday January 6th, Ms. Julie Fisher, wife of U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel B. Shapiro, hosted a reception at their residence as part of the “Art in Embassies” program. The event opened an exhibition designed to foster cultural ties between countries through art.

 

 

 


Mr. Thomas Genton, Counselor for Press and Cultural Affairs at the US Embassy, opened the evening’s festivities by welcoming guests and introducing Ms. Fisher. Both Mr. Genton and Ms. Fisher discussed the importance of art as a bridge between nations.

 

 

Following these opening remarks, artists were called up to receive certificates of appreciation for their work. Exhibition curator Keren Bar Gil and artists Yair Barak and Ohad Matalon then spoke, describing the role of the art in representing unique artistic expressions while connecting the cultures of Israel and the United States.

 

 

 

The exhibition was part of the Art in Embassies (AIE) program. The AIE program incorporates art into U.S. public diplomacy, using the visual arts and artist exchanges to facilitate cross-cultural dialogue and increased understanding.  The program was started more than a half century ago by the Museum of Modern Art and the U.S. Department of State under President John F. Kennedy. Today, AIE has grown to become a public-private partnership engaging more than 20,000 participants at 200 venues in 189 countries. AIE allows the U.S. State Department to create and bolster relationships of trust, respect and understanding, and to build intercultural bridges of peace.

 

 

The exhibition featured the work of leading American and Israeli artists, including Ohad Matalon, Yair Barak, Boaz Aharonovich, Tamir Sher, Sivan Sternbach, Mindy Weisel, Deborah Hamon, Isca Greenfield-Sanders, and Enrique Martínez Celaya. The works focused on the theme of childhood, and the shared importance of children in American and Israeli culture. More information on the exhibition, and the artists and artwork shown, can be found here.

 

Among the guests who attended the event were Yael “Yuli” Tami, an Israeli academic and former Knesset member; Assaf Pinkus, formerly head of the Art History Department at Tel Aviv University and the chair of the Tel Aviv Israeli Art Foundation; and Kena Shoval, the wife of Zalman Shoval, a former Knesset member and Israeli Ambassador to the United States.

 

Photos by Silvia Golan