(photo credit: ILAN BESOR)
Nelson Mandela once noted that “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”, while Mahatma Gandhi posited that “If we are to teach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.” If either of those legendary peace mongers’ observations holds any water, Holon is pointing the way to a better future in these parts.
The city has long been the epicenter of junior-oriented entertainment and culture and, with the reopening of the Holon Theater following a lengthy renovation project, it is ready to host the 17th edition of the annual Tzlilei Yaldut (Childhood Sounds) festival. The upcoming three-dayer will take place October 8 to 10, and the program is chock full of well-crafted productions and includes four new offerings.
It is not only quality we’re talking about here. The disciplinary spread across the festival roster is just as impressive. Tzlilei Yaldut artistic director Ori Leshman has certainly being doing his utmost to keep the flag of younger generation-tailored artistic endeavor flying high and proud. Leshman is an award-winning composer, conductor and educator who, among his numerous positions, has been active in the field of ensuring that we stay as closely connected as possible to our musical roots.
He and his colleagues have pulled out all the stops to ensure that the young Tzlilei Yaldut patrons and their families get a quality return for their ticket outlay.
“There are four premieres, including a concert that I think is unique,” says Leshman. “It is a full symphonic concert with classical works and Israeli classics and wonderful animation created by Dudu Shalita, which he infused with so much humor, which will be shown on a giant screen above the orchestra.”
He adds, “And there will be the wonderful [actor, TV host and standup comedian] Dvir Benedek and singer Einat Azulai. That’s our big premiere.” The show in question is called Hatanach Chai Beseret – something along the lines of Dreamworld Bible – over which Leshman will preside as artistic director and conductor. The star-studded cast also features the multi-layered sonic riches of the Haifa Symphony Orchestra. The production, says Leshman, offers an opportunity to convey some our heritage gems in a distinctly consumer-friendly way.
“The idea is to tell some of the Bible tales in a visual way but also in a humorous vein,” he explains.
Anyone looking to put on an attractive production will tell you that you can spend out as much as you want on frills, but you have to start with a good script. The artistic director says he had top-quality material to work with.
“We took our biggest stories, which are also the world’s greatest stories. You have the Creation, the Flood, the Exodus and the Tower of Babel. And there are the stories about King Solomon by [Haim Nachman] Bialik [in his book Vayehi Hayom]. That is a wonderful book. I wrote a sort of adaptation of that and put it together with music by [French composer Georges] Bizet. It is as if Bizet wrote music for the stories, as if Bizet wrote music for Bialik,” he says.
Wherever you look on the festival bill, eclectics appears to be the name of the Tzlilei Yaldut game. Although he primarily plies his trade in Western classical musical climes, Leshman is just as appreciative of material created in Israel over the last century or so. That takes in seemingly nonclassical works too, written by some of our front grid songsmiths, such as Israel Prize laureate Sasha Argov and pop veteran Matti Caspi.
Again, comedic slants inform the onstage output. “We took, for example, Sasha Argov’s song about the Creation,” says Leshman, referencing “Bereshit,” which Argov scored to the lyrics of Haim Hefer. It is, notes Leshman, a fun way of looking at the inception of the planet Earth but also offers current affairs food for thought.
“God creates a wonderful world, full of color and animals and plants. And then he creates man. You get a brief history of humankind in the song. All is well until man invents the atom bomb and destroys Earth. Unfortunately, that is pretty relevant to what’s going on in the world right now,” he says.
With the current Trump-Kim Jong-un shenanigans, the Hatanach Chai Beseret storyline doesn’t seem too well suited to the business of smile-raising.
“We won’t talk about North Korea, but it is topical,” says Leshman. “And there are all those storms now [in the Caribbean and the US]. That’s a bit reminiscent of the Flood.”
Ultimately, of course, even if the members of the audience, of all generations, go home with food for thought, they will also get their money’s worth in pure entertainment terms.
Elsewhere on the Tzlilei Yaldut roster is you the Song Treasure program, which is based on a wide swathe of Israeli songs written over the last 120 years; the Time Piano show with Assi Yisraelof and Avi Grainik, which marries Israeli golden oldies with historical figures such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Shakespeare and our very own feted songstress Naomi Shemer; and the Children Sing 70 slot, with children’s numbers written since the creation of the State of Israel. Add to that the If I Suddenly Meet a Lion confluence between the Haifa Theater company and the Revolution Orchestra, and you have yourself one enticing festival for all ages.The Tzlilei Yaldut festival takes place October 8 to 10 in Holon. For tickets and more information: (03) 502- 3001/2/3 and www.hth.co.il