Art & Culture




The Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra’s second concert for the 2016-2017 season offered an evening of “Hidden Treasures of the Orchestra”, a concert in which the soloists were all members of the orchestra. This writer attended the event on November 5th 2016 at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Shmuel Elbaz, the orchestra’s house conductor, directed the concert, briefly introducing the works on the program as well as the soloists.


The concert opened with J.S.Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.4, in which Daphna Itzhaki and Michal Tikotsky played the flute parts and concert master Gilad Hildesheim the solo violin role. In true Baroque style (but on modern instruments) most of the instrumentalists played standing rather than sitting. Vivid, graceful and buoyant, the Allegro movement set the mood for a lively performance, Itzhaki and Tikotsky’s playing delicately shaped and well-coordinated, with Itshaki’s echoing of Tikotsky in the Andante movement indulging in some tasteful ornamenting and gentle flexing. Following a couple of rough edges in his playing at the start, Hildesheim engaged in the ensuing violin sections splendidly and with some spontaneity (Brandenburg 4 has at times been referred to as a solo violin concerto!). Elbaz took the final seriously contrapuntal movement at a lively pace, its tempo nevertheless feeling comfortable and controlled, with direction that was clear and dynamic.


Composed when Antonin Dvořák was at the height of popularity in his native Czechoslovakia as well as in Austria, his Serenade in D-minor for winds, ‘cello and double bass opus 44 (1878) took him only two weeks to write. Bristling with Slavonic folk melodies, rhythms and harmonies – as in the sousedská (a calm Bohemian dance danced in pairs) in the wistful second movement – the score calls for two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, three horns, ‘cello and double bass, its sound world an association with the hearty sounds of the “harmonie” band, popular at the end of the 18th century.  Placed in a semi-circle around the stage, the NKO instrumentalists performed the work without the conductor; the players, watching each other closely, infused the work with freshness, energy and lightness, highlighting the unique timbral colours and textures offered by its specific instrumental combination. But, above all, the players created the work’s sense of well-being, its whimsy, its vigour and dynamic potential, as well as the jubilance of folk dances. Each player could be heard, with outstanding solos from oboist Hila Zabari-Peleg and clarinettist Igal Levin.


Then to Maestro Shmuel Elbaz’ solo – Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto in C-major for mandolin and orchestra. Despite the fact that, of Vivaldi’s very many concertos, this is the only concerto for one mandolin, the composer’s writing sits very well with the instrument. And Elbaz brought out the colour, directness and vigour inherent in Venetian art, with orchestra and mandolin engaging in layered, Baroque-style dynamics. His easeful playing bristled with energy, his skilful ornamenting, at times quite florid, never concealing the melodic line. In the Adagio movement, he wove the fragile filigree strands of its arpeggios into a pensive mood piece. A little less microphone amplification would have sufficed…or perhaps none at all.


Prior to the next item, clarinettist Igal Levin recounted the curious story of how Felix Mendelssohn’s Konzertstück No.1 in F-minor for two clarinets and orchestra (the original version was for clarinet, basset horn and piano) came about. It was when Munich court musicians clarinettist Heinrich Joseph Bärmann and his basset hornist son Carl visited the Mendelssohn home in Berlin in 1832 that a deal was struck: the court musicians would roll up their sleeves and prepare the composer some Dumpfnudeln (steamed dumplings) and Rahmstrudel (sweet cheese strudel) if, while they worked in the kitchen, Mendelssohn would write them a piece for them to perform on their upcoming tour to Russia. Mendelssohn produced the work the same evening, only needing to add a few minor instrumental changes following its completion.

He orchestrated it three weeks later. The challenging score attests to the high quality of the two Bärmanns’ playing. The NKO’s performance featured clarinettists Igal Levin and David Lobera. A work of three brief movements, its scoring of double winds – flutes, oboes, bassoons, horns and trumpets – was indeed suited to the strengths of the NKO. Soloists and orchestra gave dedicated expression to the work’s hearty, lush Romantic textures, its drama and songful melodies, its tranquillity and agitation, with Levin and Lobera engaging in musical banter, speedy figurations and exuberant hell-for-leather runs.


Bringing the orchestra together to conclude the concert, we heard Josef Haydn’s Symphony No.96 in D-major, the first of his “London Symphonies”, erroneously named “Miracle” due to a near-catastrophe when a chandelier fell from the ceiling when Haydn was conducting Symphony No.102 in London in 1795. Elbaz led his orchestra in playing of substantial orchestral quality, of Haydnesque good humour and richness of contrasts.  

And there were plenty of solos here, too, some minor utterances, others more generous: the two principal violinists are featured in solo passages, as well as all principal wind players. In the Andante (2nd movement), the focus is indeed on the winds and first violin, the latter possibly a token of appreciation of Haydn to impresario Johann Peter Salomon, who, in addition to producing Haydn’s London concerts, happened to also be his concertmaster.  In the Trio of the Menuetto (3rd movement) we once again heard outstanding oboist Hila Zabari-Peleg in an eloquent rendering of the Ländler. 

 Altogether, Maestro Elbaz and the NKO presented Haydn’s light, expressive scoring and appealing earthiness, bringing to an end an evening of fine music, in which the orchestra’s treasures certainly did not remain hidden!



Photo: Maestro Shmuel Elbaz (photo: Natan Yakobovich)








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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On Wednesday evening, June 7th, the Embassy of Slovenia in Tel Aviv celebrated 26 years of independence, and 25 years of bilateral relations with Israel. The commemoration was held at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Jaffa. The event was timed to coincide with visits by both the Minister of Education, Science and Sport Dr. Maja Makovec Brencic, and a high-level parliamentary delegation led by National Assembly President Dr. Milan Brglez.

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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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President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday , at a ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, received the diplomatic credentials of the new Ambassadors to Israel from Thailand and Spain. Each ceremony began with the raising of the flag and the playing of the national anthem of the visiting country, and - after the presentation of the credentials - the signing of the guest book, before the playing of Israel's national anthem 'Hatikva'.

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