Music moments in March: an annual festival and a sublime requiem

The first official days of spring heralded some notable concerts: the 24th Felicja Blumental Music Festival, and the Israel Camerata Jerusalem’s performance of Gabriel Fauré’s Heavenly Requiem: Divine Angels

Buzzy Gordon|
Each year at this time, Tel Aviv is the venue for the Felicja Blumental International Music Festival, which has been a 6-day event for the last 23 years.
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  • The theme of this year’s festival, which featured no fewer than 12 quite diverse performances, was “An Encounter between the Contemporary and the Timeless.”
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    Studio Annette and Felicja Blumental Music Center
    Studio Annette and Felicja Blumental Music Center
    Studio Annette and Felicja Blumental Music Center
    (Photo: Itzik Biran )
    The concerts were held in the various auditoriums of the Tel Aviv Museum of Arts, and featured works spanning the centuries – from the Baroque era to the present day. There were works from the worlds of jazz and classical music, as well as ethnic music from places as far away as Egypt, Portugal and Japan. In addition, there were performances ranging from solo musicians to small, medium and large ensembles – some who played on less familiar instruments, or in unusual combinations, like fusing East and West.
    The journey from the 17th century to the modern era could even be in the framework of a solo recital, such as by talented classical guitarist Nadav Lev. Or there could be a focus on one single composer, such as Preludes and Fugues by Johann Sebastian Bach, performed on one stage on three different keyboards – harpsichord, hammerklavier and piano – by three different artists, one flown in all the way from England.
    Apart from the festival, this was a landmark year for the Felicja Blumental Music Association: the announcement of its new permanent home – Studio Annette, named after Annette Celine, Felicja Blumental’s daughter and the founder of the association. Studio Annette houses a concert and performance studio, rehearsal rooms and the association’s offices.
    The Felicja Blumental Music Center, Shvil HaMeretz 2, Tel Aviv. Tel. (03) 620-1185.

    Heavenly Voices Join the Israel Camerata Jerusalem

    The Israel Camerata Jerusalem resumed its InstruVocal series of concerts with timeless sacred music sung by two choirs, no less. Nevertheless, the highlighted Requiem in D minor, op. 48, by Gabriel Fauré, was only one-quarter of the concert program.
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    Israel Camerata Jerusalem plays Beethoven
    Israel Camerata Jerusalem plays Beethoven
    Israel Camerata Jerusalem plays Beethoven
    (Photo: Orly Feldman Ben Azar)
    In order to take full advantage of the voices slated to sing the concluding requiem, the concert – soloists soprano Tom Ben Ishai and baritone Guy Pelc, plus the Moran Singers Ensemble and the Cecilia Ensemble – the evening began with Three Songs for unaccompanied mixed choir by 20th century French composer Maurice Ravel. Interestingly, the informative program provided the words for all the choral works of the evening: not only the requiem, as is standard, but also the songs.
    These selections were followed by an entirely instrumental work: Symphony No. 4 (in B-flat major, opus 60) by none other than Ludwig van Beethoven. It is not one of the more frequently played symphonies by the master, but nevertheless alway enjoyable, this time under the baton of Conductor Avner Biran.
    After the intermission, as is customary at a concert of the Israel Camerata Jerusalem, a work of a contemporary Israeli composer was performed: in this instance, Overture for Strings - Homage to Mendelssohn, by Menachem Weissenberg. Fittingly, the septuagenarian composer was present in the audience and recognized.
    Finally, the two headlined vocal ensembles took the stage, and the requiem that was the title piece of the evening’s program was underway. The seven movements of the liturgical work showed occasional flashes of exceptional brilliance, while the requiem as a whole was a most worthy exemplar of the genre.
    The next performances of The Israel Camerata Jerusalem will be in the framework of the orchestra’s Virtuoso Violin concert series, scheduled for April 30 in Tel Aviv, May 1 in Zichron Yaakov and May 2 in Jerusalem.
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