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The Israel Chamber Orchestra opens its 2016-2017 concert season with J.S.Bach's Mass in B-minor

 

The Israel Chamber Orchestra opened its 2016-2017 season - “Colors Worth Hearing” - with J.S.Bach’s Mass in B-minor BWV 232. The work was conducted by Ariel Zuckermann, the ICO’s musical director. Soloists were soprano Claire Meghnagi, alto Avital Dery, tenor Eitan Drori and bass Raimond Nolte (Germany). Joining them was the Chamber Choir of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance (director: Stanley Sperber). This writer attended the concert at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on September 13th 2016.

 

Johann Sebastian Bach spent the last years of his life in Leipzig compiling parts of previously-composed works, mostly from his cantatas (the practice of “parody”) into his last great composition – the Mass in B-minor. Composed over 15 years, certain sections had been performed, but less than a year after completing it, Bach died, never to hear it performed in its entirety. Not only does the work include Bach’s study of several musical styles – coordinating style of the past and the future in the High Baroque, stile antico and the Galant style - its spiritual agenda would subtly but surely have some connection with the history of his own personal religious dilemmas as a Lutheran and his position regarding Lutheran Protestantism of his day.

 

With Zuckermann’s performance of the B-minor Mass, we are not talking about performance on period instruments or of Joshua Rifkin and Andrew Parrott’s one-to-a-part approach for the singing of choruses. An ambitious undertaking, the work is so universal that what is essential to any conductor taking on the challenge is to understand how perfect the piece is and how to present its detail, its fusion of styles and its meaning, which extends far beyond that of a sacred Baroque work. In my opinion, performing and hearing the B-minor Mass presents as much interest for instrumentalists as it does for singers; Zuckermann led his orchestra in playing that was secure, supportive, articulate and elegant. We heard some splendid playing from the wind sections and there were several beautifully rendered obbligato parts enriching the various arias.  The Jerusalem Academy Chamber Choir, boasting four strong sections, gave crystal-clear expression to fine detail, complex melodic strands and the work’s extensive use of counterpoint. At times, the choral sopranos tended to emerge a little too dominant. The fragmenting of words in the opening Kyrie, probably in the name of clarity, was somewhat baffling. In contrast to the vibrant energy of some of the more dramatic choruses, with the choir’s enunciating of consonants energizing phrases and meaning, the subtle and moving expression in such choruses as the “Qui tollis” (Gloria), the “Credo in unum Deum” (Credo) or in the colliding, tragic dissonances of the “Crucifixus” (Credo) was hauntingly cushioned in lush, velvety harmonies.

 

Vocal solos and duets were dealt with well, if not always grippingly. Claire Meghnagi and Avital Dery’s very different styles and timbres did not make for felicitous dueting. Meghnagi and Eitan Drori found more common ground in the “Domine Deus”, with Drori and flute obbligato compatible in the “Benedictus”. Guest bass-baritone Raimond Nolte’s singing was attentive, his upper register pleasingly mellifluous. But, of all the soloists, it was alto Avital Dery who was the most engaging in her truly outstanding interpretation, her communication with the audience and her highlighting of the profound emotional content of each aria. With Maestro Zuckermann’s interest in articulacy, the most complex, multi-layered contrapuntal textures were never unintelligible under his direction. He led all in a performance that bristled with freshness, poise and luxuriance.

 

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Photo: Felix Broede

 

 

 

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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​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.

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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
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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)

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