The Young Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (YIPO), a project of the Jerusalem Music Center, is considered Israel’s national youth orchestra. Twice a year, in the summer and the winter, the YIPO—comprising 123 young musicians between the ages of 11 and 18, hailing from all over the country—performs concerts in Israel’s three largest cities. Last month, the YIPO performed in Tel Aviv’s most prestigious venue, the seat of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, to a packed house.
The concert opened with the work Festival Prelude (Hebrew, Omrim Yeshna Aretz) by Israeli composer Noam Sheriff, played by the entire complement of the YIPO, which filled the stage. The five-movement suite—first performed in 1957 by the Israel Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein at the opening of Tel Aviv’s Mann Auditorium—contained familiar strains inspired by Israeli folk melodies and was clearly an audience favorite.
It was impossible to divorce the all-important audio component of the performance from one unforgettable visual aspect: the energetic wielding of the baton by conductor Zvi Carmeli. In more than one instance, the enthusiastic Carmeli left both his feet while exhorting his charges.
The concert’s second work was the Holberg Suite by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, performed admirably by the string section of the YIPO only.
After the intermission, the concert concluded with Symphony No. 4 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, performed by the core of the YIPO, all of the young musicians aged 14-18. It was easy to see why this work was chosen to feature the talents of the young performers: the symphony highlights all the sections of the orchestra, with prominent representation by the brass and woodwind sections, and a full complement of the percussion section, from the gentle tinkle of the triangle to the mighty clash of the cymbals.
It was particularly interesting to note the presence of young women playing brass instruments, especially the trumpet and trombone -- a rare sight in adult orchestras, where at most women play the French horn. Altogether, meanwhile, the concert as a whole underscored why these musicians represent the future of classical music in Israel, as the YIPO serve as the premier training ground for the next generation of performers in symphony orchestras at home and and abroad.
A baroque eveningThe Israel Camerata Orchestra Jerusalem, arguably Israel’s leading chamber orchestra, is celebrating its 35th concert season this year. The Camerata was founded in 1983 by Avner Biron, who has been its music director and permanent conductor ever since.
The Camerata performs more than 100 concerts a year, in Israel and abroad. At home, it performs not only in the major cities, but also holds series of concerts in Ness Ziona, Kfar Shmaryahu and Savyon.
The Camerata’s 2018-19 concert season consists of three series: The Human Voice Series, featuring choral works ranging from the classical masters to the contemporary; La Tempeste dei Soloisti, presenting world-renowned instrumental soloists; and Reflections, a new series that strives to reflect popular music and Hebrew songs in classical music.
The second concert in this season’s Human Voice Series, Shining Stars, took place in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art last month. The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is not only the Tel Aviv home of the Camerata, it is the co-producer of the La Tempeste dei Soloisti series.
Shining Stars, a program of baroque music, was produced by visiting American artist Kenneth Weiss. Weiss not only conducted but also played harpsichord and obbligato organ.
The second guest artist of the evening was French soprano Marianne Croux, who was the vocal soloist for two of the five works in the program. The concert opened with a concerto grosso by Archangelo Corelli, followed by the motet “In caelo stellae clarae fulgescant” by Nicola Porpora, sung flawlessly by Croux.
The first half of the program concluded with the double concerto for oboe and violin by Johann Sebastian Bach. The accomplished Israeli soloists were violinist Natasha Sher and oboist Muki Zohar, in a piece that is performed all too infrequently.
Following the intermission, Croux took the stage again to sing three works by Georg Frideric Handel: the liturgical piece Salve Regina, and excerpts from two of Handel’s operas: Giulio Cesare in Egitto and Tamerlano.
The concert concluded with a familiar work that is always a crowd pleaser: Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 1.
The schedule of Camerata concerts for the second half of the 2018-19 season may be found here .