The Netanya Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra opens its 43rd season under new artistic director Shalev Ad-El, one of the most successful Israeli conductors and an accomplished harpsichord player.
Due to the efforts of previous artistic director Yaron Gottfried, the orchestra has become one of this country’s best classical music collectives and has acquired a specific music identity.
Gottfried created many not so obvious connections, such as bringing ethnic music to the classical stage and inviting poets and artists of various fields to participate in the programs.
How does Ad-El, whose name is associated mainly with the world of Baroque, feel in this situation, and where is he planning to take his new orchestra? “To begin with, this is one of Israel’s oldest orchestras, and its identity should not be defined by its last 10 years when it made crossovers, performed ethnic music, etc.
Second, in Israel I am mostly seen as a Baroque musician, but that is not entirely the case. For quite a few years I’ve been exploring the music of later periods, namely late Baroque to Brahms. For 10 years I conducted the Halle Orchestra, as well as many philharmonic orchestras throughout the world, from Bogota to Hong Kong,” he says.
While that is true, Gottfried’s innovative style is probably what the audience is still expecting from the orchestra. Has Ad-El considered the worst case scenario – people not renewing their subscriptions? “Yaron Gottfried, my classmate from the Thelma Yellin School, did a great job and has left the orchestra in far better condition compared to how he got it,” he responds. “He had an agenda of his own, and according to his ideas and music inclinations, he created interesting programs, appealed to new audiences and brought the orchestra to a higher level of performance.”
That said, Ad-El continues, “The Netanya Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra as a 35-member collective is an ensemble that perfectly fits a traditional repertoire, and I don’t see any reason to give it up in favor of, say, Brazilian music. Most of our audiences live in the periphery, and their music tastes are quite traditional. I believe that we simply have to deliver them the goods, and we are able to. So it’s a big question whether orchestras should cater to marginal audiences while risking the loss of its major listeners.”
As for the worst case scenario, he says, “There are people who do not renew their subscriptions, and we attentively follow up on every cancellation. It turns out that until now, there was only one person who decided to say farewell to our orchestra because he really loves ethnic music, which I totally respect. The rest said that the reason was their health condition, their advanced age, etc. That is, the reasons for the cancellations had nothing to do with music,” he explains.
“I adamantly believe that there is a place for an orchestra with a traditional classical repertoire. I also believe that a musician – I, for that matter – has to be authentic and honest with himself, meaning that some other artistic director who is interested in, say, contemporary music, would have brought different ideas and different programs to his new orchestra. But in my vision, this music integrity, combined with the orchestra’s music identity, is the best way to win the listeners’ hearts,” he says.
For the season’s opening concert, Ad-El has invited Karl-Heinz Schutz, the principal flute of the Vienna Philharmonic, who will perform a virtuoso adaptation of Mendelssohn’s famous violin concerto. The program also features Mozart’s overture to Don Giovanni and a symphony by Vorisek, Mozart’s Czech successor. He was the great promise of the 19th century, born the year of Mozart’s death, who also died prematurely like Mozart.
The orchestra’s opening concert will take place October 2 – 20 in venues throughout the country. For more details: 077-466-1766.