Jewish music is not exactly new in the entertainment universe, particularly in a market that has witnessed the proliferation of world music over the past decade or so. But the new Jerusalem Strings ensemble, which will perform at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot on October 16, suggests it has some added value to offer.
At least in pure PR terms, the group has a head start. The frontman is Argentinean-born Israeli Giora Feidman, one of the most celebrated klezmer clarinetists in the world and the man who played several solos on the soundtrack of Schindler's List.
The Jerusalem Strings lineup is certainly impressive, with 15 classically trained players, mostly graduates of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. Feidman believes the troupe has a quality act.
"During the past years I have been trying to create an ensemble like this," he says. "It was clear to me that no group of musicians in Israel performs Jewish music of a high standard."
Indeed, most associate Jewish music with small bunches of merry musicians playing at simchas. "Jewish music is left to the bands that perform at weddings," Feidman summarizes. "I see our mission as creating an ensemble that will carry the torch to a new level of excellence."
That, the clarinetist says, involves some synthesis with other areas of music. "Our intention is to create a repertoire that will intxegrate traditional Jewish music with modern and traditional chamber music, and bring it to a new level of performance."
The forthcoming concert at the Weizmann Institute's Wix Auditorium follows a recent performance in Kfar Blum where the ensemble was due to play in the summer, but the Voice of Music Festival was canceled because of the conflict in Lebanon.