Between May 14 and 19, one of the most exciting annual events of the Tel Aviv
music stage, the Felicja Blumental International Music Festival, will take place
at the city’s Museum of Art, for the 14th time now.
The festival was
founded by soprano Annette Celine to commemorate her late mother, outstanding
pianist Felicja Blumental.
Born in Warsaw in 1908, Blumental graduated
from the National Conservatory and luckily took refuge in France at the outset
of World War II. She later went to Brazil and performed extensively in Latin
America. After the war, she returned to Europe, where her concerts were a great
success. Her repertoire was vast and far from traditional. Composers Heitor
Villa- Lobos, Krzysztof Penderecki and Witold Lutoslawski dedicated their pieces
to her. Blumental, who is regarded as one of the 20th century’s most important
pianists, died in Tel Aviv in 1991.
Eight years later, Celine inaugurated
the festival in her name. “Playing music is the best way to keep the memory of
my mother alive,” says Celine, who is the artistic director of the festival and
works in close cooperation with the event’s executive director, Avigail
Speaking over the phone on the eve of the festival, Arnheim
explains that over the years the concept of the festival has developed
“Naturally, piano music – especially rarely performed pieces –
were initially at the heart of our programs, and we still make it a point to
play piano music that is less familiar to the public. But the program now
features Baroque music, as well as being coupled with a week of classical guitar
under the direction of Yehuda Schreier. They both make the programs quite
special,” she says.
On the whole, the festival, which has become a
meeting point between cultures and arts, has a lot to offer – Early music,
flamenco, Gypsy, Brazilian, classical, Jewish music, theater, performances for
the whole family and more. It will host guests from Brazil, Italy, Spain,
Austria, Belgium and Canada, as well as renowned Israeli musicians.
festival always offers its stage to young, aspiring Israeli musicians. This year
the festival will even start with a debut concert of the Quinta Vahetzi a
cappella ensemble, which will perform works by Bach, Sting, Argov and
“We heard the ensemble performing at the Felicja Blumental Music Center on Bialik Street,” says Arnheim, “and were so impressed that we
felt it was a must to introduce them to the major audience.”
programs, chamber musicians from the Jerusalem Music Center – the greenhouse for
local talent – and young guitar players will showcase their art.
opening of the festival is the gala evening of the Ensemble Auser Musici from
Italy, with opera star mezzo-soprano Marina De Liso. Their Sweet Baroque and
Stormy Times program includes music by Scarlatti, Gasparini, Handel, Telemann
Camer-proza is a very special program that puts the magic of
words and music together. At this concert, the renowned Jerusalem Trio will meet
artist Nathan Slor, who will read short essays and poetry by Nathan Alterman and
Eli Mohar while the trio performs a selection of movements from piano trios by
Ravel, Mendelssohn, Haydn, Brahms, Shostakovich and Schumann.
they have in common?” says Arnheim. “Nowadays, chamber music in Tel Aviv is
flourishing, while Alterman and Mohar are very Tel Avivian authors.”
the Flamenco Autentico evening with renowned vocalist and guitarist Oscar
Herrero, percussionist Miguel Riass (both from Spain) and Israeli singer Natali
Meidan, the audience will take captivating journey through time that traces the
evolution of the genre, starting in the mid-18th century with primitive flamenco
and pre-flamenco songs.
As an example of rarely performed piano music,
Arnheim cites a piano concerto by Beethoven’s student Ferdinand Ries, performed
by Ilan Levin with the Israeli Chamber Orchestra under Yishai Steckler. On the
whole, the concert is described as a tribute to Massenet. Two fine Israeli
sopranos – Alla Vasilevitsky and Shimrit Carmi – will perform arias by Massenet
and his contemporaries.
And all this is just a small part of the
Other musical fare includes Brazilian Sounds with
vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Guinga from Brazil and the fiery Chorole
ensemble from Israel; a short and touching concert of Brazilian songs performed
by Celine and guitarist Yehuda Schryer; guitarists Dietmar Kres from Austria and
Alvaro Pierri from Uruguay; an intriguing salsa Baroque program presented by
Ensemble Caprice together with Canadian soprano Shannon Mercer, which will
perform music of Latin America and Spain of the 17th and 18th century. And there
will be documentaries about Wanda Landowska, Vladimir Horowitz and Bronislav
Huberman presented by Yossi Schiffmann, as well as programs for the entire
family, workshops and more.
“I love this festival,” confides Arnheim.
“There are many concerts that I would really like to attend, not as one who is
involved in the event but simply as a music lover. The programs are fresh, many
names are new, the atmosphere is natural – you don’t have to put on your
fanciest clothes if you don’t want to – and you will meet people who come to
enjoy the music and who will be glad to discuss it after the
Last but not least, the ticket prices are reasonable, and there
are many events that are free.”For reservations: (03) 620-1185, For more