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An auspicious event of the first Bach in Jerusalem Festival (March 17th-21st 2016) was a recital titled “Preludes and Fugues performed by pianist Jascha Nemtsov. It took place at the Jerusalem Music Centre, Mishkenot Sha’ananim on March 20th.
With his program taking a cue from the music of J.S.Bach at the core of the festival, Professor Nemtsov opened his recital with pieces from Book I of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier - a contemplative, gently expansive reading of the Prelude in E major, followed by its bold partner fugue. His poetic rendering of the F-minor Prelude highlighted key notes; then, to the Fugue with its enigmatic, atonal subject, clearly highly inspirational to Nemtsov, whose poly-dimensional playing was variously and imaginatively orchestrated at each stage of the piece.

Many of us were especially drawn to the recital to hear the pianist’s first Israeli performance of a number of the 24 Preludes and Fugues of Ukraine-born composer Vsevolod Zaderatsky (1891-1953), an artist systematically persecuted, excluded from Soviet musical life, exiled and twice imprisoned. Much of his music was destroyed. He did, however, compose six piano sonatas, three programmatic piano cycles, two operas, symphony- and ensemble scores and the cycle of 24 Preludes and Fugues. The Preludes and Fugues (1937-1938) constitute the central work of the composer’s musical legacy (there are also some literary works), having miraculously survived and made it into the hands of the composer’s son who, in the 1970s deciphered what was written in the Kilyma camp of Siberia mostly on telegram forms, copying the pieces out in full. The cycle of Zaderatsky’s Preludes and Fugues was first performed in its entirety by Nemtsov in 2015 at the 6th International Shostakovich Days (Gohrisch, Germany). 2015 also saw the publishing of the work as well as Nemtsov’s double CD recording of the complete set for the Profil label. At the Jerusalem recital, Jascha Nemtsov’s performance of this highly varied group of pieces convincingly displayed Zaderatsky’s kaleidoscope of ideas and his fine (and highly challenging) pianistic writing; beyond those qualities, Nemtsov sketched a picture of the man himself and the breadth of fantasy and emotion that may well have been what saw him through ordeals in the gulag that many do not survive. The pieces also attest to the composer’s mastery at the piano. If Bach’s C-major Prelude of the WTC I is bathed in light and tranquillity, Zaderatsky’s C-major is ghostly, intense, confrontational, sometimes atonal. The splendid A-minor Prelude, with its hectic, bright and cascading agenda, as well as its drone presence, breathes optimism, as does its richly chordal accompanying Fugue, which ends on an octave-and-fifth, pared-down Renaissance-type chord. In the G-major Prelude, with its agile, weightless “Flight-of-the-Bumblebee” texture, Nemtsov’s virtuosic performance displayed the piece’s play of colours and humour. The G-Major Fugue, however, follows by conjuring up a complex soundscape. After the atonal, floating “seascape” of the E-Minor Prelude, the E-minor Fugue, with quotes threaded through the texture, its voices shaped with individual expression, ended on three decisive minor chords. A true gem, the B-Minor Prelude’s fine gossamer melody wrought of parallel seconds took one’s breath away with its beauty; its modal/atonal partner fugue taking on a much weightier character, its texture offering a suggestion of bells. With the F-sharp minor Prelude’s shining, high melodic line and poignant bell-like textures, we were raised up to a more celestial place; its Fugue splendidly chiselled, with each phrase growing out of its predecessor. Nemtsov’s total immersion in the music and in the workings of Zaderatsky’s intellect and soul left the audience humbled and moved.
 

First silenced as a “degenerate” composer due to his Jewish ancestry, Czech composer Viktor Ullmann composed the “Variations and Fugue on a Hebrew Folk Song”, the fifth and last movement of Sonata No.7, his final work, when interned in Theresienstadt. Against all odds, Ullmann was very creative there. “Theresienstadt was and is for me a school of structure”, he wrote. “I must stress that I have bloomed in my musical work…without inhibition…” In 1944, however, shortly after completing the piece, he was transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, soon perishing in the gas chambers there. The Hebrew folksong on which the movement is based is a Zionist song sung by Yehuda Sharett. It sets a poem by the poet Rachel. Ullmann’s variations bear resemblance to a Slovak national anthem (banned by the Nazis) and a Hussite hymn, also quoting the Protestant hymn “Now thank we all our God”. Apparent in this final movement are, in fact, a comprehensive array of the elements making up Ullmann’s musical-, emotional- and intellectual existence (references to Bach, to Christianity versus Judaism, folk music, the fugue, tonal- versus atonal music) or might it be an utterance of defiance of his Nazi captors? Nemtsov’s free, playful and brilliant performance of the work reflected the composer’s unshakable optimism. In his introductory words, the artist referred to Ullmann’s Fugue as a “kind of vision”. With BACH motif appearing in the fugue, here was another connection to the festival itself.

When Dmitri Shostakovich went to Leipzig in 1950 for events marking 200 years of J.S.Bach’s death, he heard young virtuoso pianist Tatiana Nikolyeva performing pieces from both books of The Well-Tempered Clavier. Returning to Moscow, he began to sketch out his own 24 Preludes and Fugues, a work alluding to the music of Mussorgsky, Borodin and Russian folk music but also to the world of counterpoint. This diverse and imaginative collection of pieces takes the listener through the wide range of the composer’s emotional world, from bleak despair to exaltation, from the grotesque to devil-may-care jollity. It was Nikolyeva who then premiered the Shostakovich work in 1952. At his Jerusalem recital, Jascha Nemtsov played three pairs of Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues opus 87, opening with the C-Major pair - autumnal, harmonically rich, gently dissonanced yet breathing a sense of C-Major purity and directness, its Fugue played with fragile beauty. Nemtsov, having mentioned that the F-Sharp-Minor prelude included motifs from Klezmer music, presented the agitated, feisty miniature with playfulness, cynicism and a touch of whimsy, then drawing the listener into the disturbing banality-cum-dissonance of the Fugue subject and its complex workings, a piece as bewitching as it is disturbing. As to the D-Minor Prelude, Nemtsov highlighted its noble character, giving a natural and free voice to the richly varied emotional agenda of the consequent Fugue. Professor Nemtsov’s playing sensitively plumbs the depths of Shostakovich’s mind, his elegant and nimble touch presenting the pieces with masterful eloquence, his deep enquiry into each revealing its truth.

Pianist and musicologist Jascha Nemtsov was born in Magadan (Siberia), growing up in St. Petersburg and graduating with distinction from the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Since 1992, he has lived in Germany, with a busy international career performing both solo- and chamber music. Nemtsov’s repertoire covers a wide range of works and styles, from Classical- and Romantic repertoire to music of the 20th- and 21st centuries, with emphasis on Russian music – Shostakovich, Zaderatsky, Weinberg and other composers. As a performer and musicologist, he has focused on Jewish art music of the early 20th century and performs works of composers who suffered at the hands of the Nazis. He has been active in salvaging forgotten works of the New Jewish School (Russia, early 20th century). Jascha Nemtsov’s many recordings have won him several prizes. He today holds the chair of History of Jewish Music at the University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar and serves as academic director of the Abraham Geiger College (the Reform rabbinic/cantorial seminary attached to the University of Potsdam, Berlin.)
 
 
Photo Pianist and musicologist Jascha Nemtsov performs at the first Bach in Jerusalem Festival
 photo credit for Nrmysov pjoto
 

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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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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The Charles Bronfman Auditorium at Habima Square is one of the centerpieces of the Israeli arts and cultural scene, home to the Israel Philharmonic for the last 60 years. On Friday, May 19th, it was home to yet another historic event, with the dedication of the entrance hall to Miri Shitrit of blessed memory.

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President Reuven and First Lady Nechama Rivlin today, (Monday), welcomed President of the United States Donald J. Trump, and First Lady Melania Trump on arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport, and then at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

On his arrival at the President’s Residence, President Trump signed the official guest book and wrote, “It is such a great honor to be in Israel and be with all of my great friends”.

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  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, today (Monday, 22 May 2017), at Ben-Gurion International Airport, welcomed US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania with an honor guard.

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The EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen, on 17 May to discuss Israel's
successful participation in Horizon 2020, European Union's research and innovation funding programme.

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JPost.com - Breaking News

PM Netanyahu addresses Temple Mount violence at weekly ministers meeting

Syrian warplanes strike near Damascus despite ceasefire

'It is a very volatile time,' IDF chief of staff tells new soldiers

Shin Bet and IDF arrest 25 Hamas members overnight in the West Bank

High Court to rule on the release of Temple Mount terrorists' bodies today

Rocket launched from Gaza explodes midair

Meretz site victim to pro-Palestinian cyber attack

Venezuela's opposition announces two-day anti-Maduro strike next week

US Ambassador to Israel condemns Halamish attack

Germany says Crimean turbine scandal souring relations with Russia

Settlement point at the Neve Tsuf/Halamish junction blocks road from Arab entry

White House silent on Temple Mount crisis

EU sounds alarm, urges US to coordinate on Russia sanctions

UN Security Council to meet Monday on Jerusalem violence -diplomats

Sweden, France, Egypt seek UN meeting on Israeli-Palestinian violence

Victims of Halamish terror attack named

Free Iranian citizens, Iran tells US in response to Trump

Clashes between Palestinian and security forces renewed in Jerusalem area

US lawmakers reach deal on sanctions bill for Russia, Iran, N.Korea

Swedish Open semi interrupted by man shouting Nazi slogans

Iran's Revolutionary Guards detain Saudi fishing boat, arrest crew -IRNA

Police forces targeted with rocks near Jerusalem

Sources: US investigators seek to turn Manafort in Russia probe

Syrian military declares cessation of hostilities east of Damascus - state TV

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