Ayear ago the Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra, one of the Israel’s oldest, added “Netanya” to its name.

“The Kibbutz Movement, which is going through hard times, informed us that they were unable to fully finance us anymore and that we should look for more sources of money,” says the artistic director of the orchestra, pianist and conductor Yaron Gottfried. “The municipality of Netanya, which wanted to develop the cultural life in the city, hosted us, and the first the concert series there was a great success, with many concerts being sold out. But on the whole, this is the same orchestra, whose aim has always been to bring quality music to the remotest corners of the country.”

Today the orchestra is probably the same as it was a year ago, but not as it was 10 years back, when Gottfried took charge of it and substantially changed the very idea of the programming. In addition to the tried and true repertoire, he brought new and fresh music, as well as neighboring arts such as opera and dance.

As a result, the Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra (NKO) has significantly increased its devoted audience. And in addition to its ongoing concert activities, the NKO conducts numerous educational programs in schools throughout Israel, nurturing a new generation of concert goers.

“In my 10th season as the artistic director of the orchestra, I can say that I’ve just strengthened in my belief that one should rely on his artistic instincts, on his gut feeling,” says Gottfried when asked about the programming. “The season program has to be like a piece of music or a painting, to be coherent and consistent and not fall apart into a selection of concerts, disconnected one from another. I also have to keep a balance between what the audience likes and what the orchestra needs to play as a developing musical body. But again, I believe in a real thing and not in gimmicks.”

The NKO’s program this season is a good example of Gottfried’s words. It features nine concert series in different venues throughout the country – in Netanya, Naharia, Beit She’an, Givatayim, kibbutzim Ein Hashofet, Ein Hahoresh, Givat Brenner and Dorot, as well as the Tel Aviv Museum. Each series includes nine concerts, and each gives the audience a chance to learn new things, as well as hear familiar music in a new perspective.

It opens with two vocal masterpieces – Bach`s Magnificat, an exemplary praise of God as part of the Christian service, and Faure’s Requiem, one of the most important in the Romantic period, with a distinct French character. Another concert brings a Catalan flavor to the concert halls and hosts Spanish conductor Salvador Brotons, who will present works of three generations of Catalan composers. Other intriguing programs feature an homage to the trumpet with Friedrich Reinhold, one of the world`s leading trumpet soloists, and Eran Reemy, a trumpet player from the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, and an encounter with Giora Feidman, arguably the greatest klezmer musician today, who celebrates 50 years on stage.

Another captivating encounter is that between a pipa (Chinese mandolin) and a classical mandolin. Gottfried, who has been conducting a lot in China and next year will travel there with his orchestra, has invited to Israel famous pipa player Hong-yan Zhang. And Israeli Grammy nominee Avi Avital will perform the local premiere of Avner Dorman’s Mandolin Concerto.

And yes, Gottfried will finally host his father, Dan Gottfried, one of the key figures of Israeli jazz. Together they will present jazz standards, along with Gottfried’s unique jazz interpretation of Mussorgsky’s music.

Probably the most unusual concert will be the one with Israeli writer Etgar Keret. This will be a unique encounter between a selection of short stories, read by the cult author with music selected by the associations they inspired. In addition, there will be the world premiere of a new work by Yaron Gottfried to a new story by Keret.

And that’s just part of it. Intriguing programming, excellent young Israeli soloists, guests from abroad and a unique combination of old and new. Bottom line: The orchestra deserve a lot of attention. Not to be missed.

For more details: www.nko.co.il

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