Full accolades to this outstanding institution for its contribution to Israel in general, and music in particular.
There are moments in Israel when we take pride in our achievements.
An example occurred last week at a youth concert celebrating the Jerusalem Conservatory Hassadna’s 40th anniversary.
Hassadna was begun as a small venture by Amalia Reuel and Aliza Levin in 1973. Today under the direction of Lena Nemirovsky-Wiskind, Ronit Berman and Oleg Bogod, 650 students receive tuition with a faculty of 100 teachers.
All segments of Israeli youth, Jewish, Arab, religious and secular participate.
From its humble beginnings, Hassadna has developed into a leading institution for music education.
Last March, Hassadna’s Wind Orchestra took first prize at the World Wind Band Festival in that ultimate mecca for musicians, New York’s Carnegie Hall. The Wind Orchestra conducted by Sagit Mazuz opened the concert with a rousing rendition of American composer Alfred Reed’s overture, The Hounds of Spring.
Hassadna recruits disabled children, integrating them into the regular student body. This was vividly demonstrated when two blind pianists (instructed by Deborah Schramm and Ronit Berman) accompanied by the wind orchestra played Oleg Bogod’s adaptation of Yoni Rechter’s “How a Song is Born.” This contribution was a true emotional roller coaster.
The concert featured other talented young soloists. Space limitation prevents me from listing all, however, special mention must be given to 14-year-old Avraham Terifa (instructed by Michael Gaisler), who is currently the first Ethiopian to become a member of The Young Israel Philharmonic. He showed his mettle in a composition by de Falla. Thirty Ethiopians are enrolled in Hassadna and the staff looks after all their needs, ensuring that they become integrated into the student body.
Instructed by Michael Gaisler, the 18-year-old violinist Rinat Erlichman was joined by three other string players in two movements from Shostakovich’s string quartet opus 110. Despite their young age, they captured this work’s gloomy character. Rinat also gave an impressive account of an excerpt from one of Ysaye’s sonatas.
There was a deeply probing rendering of Mendelssohn’s Variations sérieuses, Opus 54, by Almog Segal, another talented Hassadna pianist. This contribution added a touch of melancholy to the concert in that his teacher, Louiza Yoffe, died a week ago. Together with the wind orchestra, saxophonist Andre Tsirlin concluded the program with an exciting performance of Nigunim nigudi’im (conflicting melodies) a composition by Oleg Bogod.
Israel’s ultimate destiny lies in the hands of her youth. Judging from this concert, our future is assured.