'For us, the most important news is that Keshet Eilon is returning to the kibbutz, where it belongs," says Itzhak Rashkovsky, cofounder and music director of the Keshet Eilon International Violin Master Course, which this year takes place between July 27 and August 15 at the Western Galilee Kibbutz Eilon.
Last summer's Lebanon war forced Keshet Eilon - which started 17 years ago as a modest project to support immigrant musicians and turned into one of the most sought-after summer camps in the world, thanks to its high level of instruction and friendly, supportive atmosphere - to relocate to the center of the country.
This year, the course, which usually hosts up to 55 students, has "shrunk" to 45.
"Not that we've lost our popularity," asserts Rashkovsky, who is also professor of violin at the Royal College of Music, London. "But from the experience of last year, with its many cancellations, we learned the value of having fewer students, granting more attention to each and to giving him or her more opportunities to appear in public."
This summer, the faculty core, which includes Israelis of international stature such as Shlomo Mintz, Haim Taub, Hagai Shaham, Ani Schnarch, Felix Andrievsky, Vadim Gluzman and Elena Mazor, alongside international teachers such as Cihat Askin or Gyorgy Pauk (who never fail to arrive whatever the situation) will be reinforced by names such as that of renowned American teachers David Russel (who taught there some five years ago), and Maurizio Fuks. It seems almost superfluous to add that Ida Haendel, probably the last of the 20th century's Golden Generation, will come as a distinguished guest for open classes and a recital.
"Whatever the weather, Ida is with us. Last year she came at the peak of the Lebanon war, met the students and gave a stunning recital," says Rashkovsky.
The course activities feature individual lessons, master classes, students' and teachers' concerts, as well as special programs.
"Our students often say they miss chamber music, so this year we'll join forces with another summer course, Music in the Valley, conducted by the Jerusalem Music Academy, for a performance of Homage to Monteverdi, which was commissioned by the course to Israeli composer Betty Olivero," says Rashkovsky. "The piece will be premiered by a 27-strong student orchestra - we'll provide the violins and they'll bring cellos, violas, double bass and even an accordion - at the closing gala concert at TAPAC."
Another special program is dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the death of the founder of the Israel Philharmonic, Bronislav Huberman, featuring slides and historic recordings, followed by a students' concert.
For music lovers, and especially for those who love violin, Keshet Eilon is a little paradise. All activities are open to the public, with admission either free or at a nominal price, while the rustic pleasures of the Western Galilee can be enjoyed by renting a room at Eilon or other kibbutz hotels in the region
Master course details at www.keshetei.org.il. Reservations and updates at (04) 985-8131 / 191.