Omer Wellber .
(photo credit: Courtesy)
This evening and on July 10, 30-year old globetrotting Israeli conductor Omer
Wellber will wield his baton over the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and the
Israeli Opera choir, plus four solo vocalists in what promises to be stirring
renditions of Verdi’s Requiem. With around 80 instrumentalists and about 80- 90
choir members, besides the soloists, on board there will be plenty of voluminous
endeavor on offer at the two concerts.
The performances will also be
something of a rare opportunity for Wellber to display his skills in his native
country. These days the young conductor earns a significant part of his living
as the music director of the Queen Sofía Palace of the Arts opera house in
Valencia, Spain and is a frequent guest conductor at such venerable venues as La
Scala in Milan, Italy where the requiem was first performed in
During his time here he has performed with the Israeli Sinfonietta,
the Israel Chamber Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Haifa Symphony
Orchestra and the Israel Symphony Orchestra of Rishon LeZion.
track record notwithstanding this evening’s concert will be the first time he
has overseen a reading of Verdi’s Requiem.
“I have never conducted it in
Israel, or anywhere else. It is an exciting prospect,” says Wellber, adding that
he is particularly looking forward to this evening’s concert at the Jerusalem
“Think about it. I am going to get on a stage and conduct an
orchestra in a performance of a religious work in Jerusalem.
always something special about doing anything in Jerusalem, especially something
like this” Wellber has occupied the podium for renditions of other requiems but
says there is something about Verdi’s work which sets it apart.
“I had a
discussion about it with the orchestra the other day. I don’t generally have
philosophical discourse with my orchestras. But, with works like this, you can’t
just talk about piano and forte, and other technicalities. There comes a stage
when you have to talk about the work in general.”
“I told the orchestra
that, for me, as opposed to any other requiem, there is an element of doubt in
Verdi’s Requiem. For me that is the strongest aspect of the
It talks about religion, and about God, and lots of
associations, but it is a human work with lots of doubt in it.”
tendency of religious works to glorify God and all things deified in no
uncertain terms that is quite an observation.
“In Christianity there is
always supposed to be some distance between human beings and God, and no one
should have any doubt about anything at all. But, in Verdi’s Requiem there are
elements in the music itself, and the Latin text, which generate a sense of
Verdi gives us this work with a large question mark.”
you, not everyone would agree with that angle.
“I was in Berlin a few
days ago, to talk to [conductor Daniel] Barenboim about this.
He said I
take an overly Jewish view of the work. That may be so but there are definitely
some things in the Requiem that raise question marks. I find that a bit
difficult emotionally. Verdi wrote the work towards the end of his life, and you
can almost hear him saying: ‘When I was young I was certain about God and
religion but, now that my end is near, I am not so sure.’ That is what is
intriguing for me.”
Wellber says that should come across in the
“It will be a performance of people who are looking for
something, and not of people who have found it.” That does not, however, mean
that the orchestra and conductor might lose their way in mid-flight.
was important to talk to the orchestra so that we are all on board, and that the
players all know where I am heading with this.”
Questions marks or no,
with around 170 instrumentalists and singers, and a conductor, on stage for the
requiem an emotive experience is assured for one and all.Omer Wellber
and soloists, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and the Israeli Opera choir will
perform Verdi’s Requiem at the Jerusalem Theater in Jerusalem this evening at 8
p.m., and at the Center for the Performing Arts in Tel Aviv on July 10 at 8 p.m.
For more information and tickets, call: 02-5605755, 1- 700-70-4000 or 036927777
or go to www.israel-opera.co.il