Italy comes to Tel Aviv

Music Fest Perugia is a master course that offers young musicians many rare opportunities.

January 24, 2013 14:26
3 minute read.
Israeli pianist Ilana Vered

Italy comes to Tel Aviv. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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On February 4, a special concert will take place at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. For the first time, the local audience will have the opportunity to get a taste of Music Fest Perugia.

Music Fest Perugia? This term is more familiar in Italy and other countries than in Israel, although this unique master course, which takes place every summer in the ancient Umbrian city of Perugia, was conceived, founded and is artistically directed by prominent Israeli pianist Ilana Vered (pictured).

In the concert, a promising young Israeli pianist and a singer, as well as two other vocalists, will come from Italy to perform with the Ashdod Symphony under the baton of Uri Segal.

Vered, who was born in Jerusalem, started her music education in Israel but continued her studies in France, where she entered the Paris Conservatoire at 13. As an adult, she performed in recitals worldwide and as a soloist with major orchestras. Her performing career came to an abrupt end, however, when she injured her hand in a traffic accident. The multi-talented artist switched her skills to studying painting in Florence. There, she was asked to perform a recital in the smallest amphitheater in the world – Il piu piccolo teatro del mondo. The recital was a huge success, which caused Vered, together with her husband, Peter Hermes – a leading neurologist and partner in his wife’s musical activities – to initiate a festival of their own.

This summer, the sixth edition of the festival in Perugia, which started as a small two-week event, will last an entire month and host students from all over the world, including a group of young Israeli talents.

“Without much advertising, we have become quite popular in the music world, and we’ve had to make the course twice as long due to the large demand,” says Vered.

There are several factors that make the course so special. The first is an orchestra in residence. This time, it will be the Ashdod Symphony, with internationally renowned maestro Uri Segal. (“Many years ago in London, we recorded Mozart together for the Decca label,” Vered recalls.) This gives the students an opportunity to perform with an orchestra – something that is almost impossible for a young pianist. Generally speaking, one would have to win an important competition and, as part of the prize, receive a contract for performances.

“For a beginner pianist, the educational value of such an experience is immense,” Vered stresses.

Another factor is Vered’s approach as a performer and teacher of music making.

“Today, with all this technical perfection of performers, the essence of music-making is often lost. We try to teach students to speak with music, to communicate with the audience through music, to read the audience the story written by the composer. For me, this is what counts in music – to move, to touch and to communicate,” she says. .

Vered explains that the renowned teachers who come from different countries (including Israel) and schools are actually talking about the same ideas but slightly differently, “which broadens our students’ horizons.”

In addition, the young musicians are exposed to the beauty and art treasures of the ancient Italian town and its museums, which enriches them immensely: It is no secret that more often than not, the contemporary system of education lacks this kind of experience.

At present, the Music Fest Perugia hosts pianists and vocalists, but Vered is considering including chamber music as well.

Another special feature of the festival does not relate to music but rather to Israel.

“For many international music students, this is a rare opportunity to meet their Israeli counterparts, and it’s amazing how fast they become friends, how quickly they are captivated by the warmth and openness of Israeli kids, and what a good name our festival makes for Israel – in Italy and throughout the world,” says Vered.

This summer, the master course will take place July 16 – 30 and August 2 – 17. For further information, visit

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