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Sometimes being small has its benefits. The Israel Camerata Chamber Orchestra has only 31 players. But knowing each other well, they work as a fine-tuned unit. Under conductor Avner Biron, the orchestra carries a respected name and receives consistently fine reviews. Every season, they play over 100 concerts in Israel and abroad. Ahead of Jerusalem Day, this Sunday at the Jerusalem Theater's Henry Crown Hall, the orchestra will perform with The Philharmonia Singers Choir and conductor Ronen Borshevsky in a concert entitled A Song of Praise to Jerusalem.
"It is very interesting that many composers, Jew and non-Jew, from all periods of music, were inspired by Jerusalem and wrote music in the city's praise," Biron says. "I feel that this exultation resulted in musical creations that have a special quality and make a fitting tribute to Yom Yerushalayim. While these composers often used the same text to praise Jerusalem, the variety of music calls attention to the musical differences between cultures, eras and outlooks while expressing a common love."
A respected music historian, Biron seeks to provide his audiences with an eclectic choice of works. The Jerusalem Day program will include pieces by two Baroque composers J.S. Bach, and Henry Purcell; "Hallelujah" by Salamon Rossi, the Italian-Jewish composer of the Renaissance; the 20th-century American composer Alan Hovhaness, who was fascinated with the sounds of Oriental music; and the works of three Israeli composers - Paul Ben Haim, Avi Maayani, and the premiere of a piece by Michael Wolpe commissioned by the orchestra for the occasion.
Biron has been a flautist in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, director of the Abu-Ghosh music festival, and nine years head of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. In the early Nineties, Biron, decided to establish a different type of orchestra - small, yet with high standards. He auditioned over 250 musicians, many of whom recent immigrants from the FSU, and was amazed by the quantity and quality of the talent available.
Biron notes that a conductor must communicate to the musicians his respect for them as artists, but must also be a "psychologist" and convince the players that the overall musical concept he has is a valid one.
"He must transmit a clear image of the sound he wants at the first rehearsal."
"We have to breathe together and listen to each other," points out Biron. "Chamber music is a very exact music experience. Although it sounds easy, it is difficult to play absolutely in tune and together. There is no place to hide and each second counts. However, when achieved, the results are fantastic and the range of chamber material wide."