(photo credit: )
The first part of Classicameri, the Israeli Chamber Orchestra festival in Eilat hosted by the Isrotel hotel chain, was a weekend of musical delights. Gil Shohat, the artistic director, indulged the crowd lavishly. He conducted the program of popular classics with a smile and a sort of hedonistic body language that expressed the motto of the occasion - enjoy the music.
Most of the soloists were Israeli, and the audience was pleased to see young local talent on stage. Performing the "Second Piano Concerto" by Camille Saint Saens, Dorel Golan showcased her dexterity. She was carried away by her own playing, and so was the audience. Another soloist was ICO concertmaster Vladimir Reider, who performed "Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso" with lan and virtuosity.
In another program, ICO violist Haya Livni made a sortie into Yiddish culture, and presented the program with warmth and authority. Chamber pieces by Brahms, played by the orchestra members, featured an excellent performance by Nikolai Petrov, one of Russia's foremost pianists, and were a notable highlight of the festival.
Kelly Tsarfati and Ricardo Calvo brought the tango to life with their sensual and technically perfect dance.
During the closing "Gershwin in La Scala" concert, Anna Peshes, a young Israeli singer who makes Vienna her home, stunned the audience with her deep and intense mezzo soprano, and also her radiant smile. Soprano Maria Kabelsky, already familiar to local music lovers, also emerged as a fine singing actress. She was especially good in an aria of Sima from Gil Shohat's kids' opera "Max and Morits".
The evening ended up with Shohat, Dorel Golan and Vladimir Reider improvising on the piano, in total agreement with the warm family spirit of the festival.
This year, due to high demand, the festival will last two weekends. After a two-day intermission, it will continue from January 31 until February 4.