Arkadi Duchin 298.
(photo credit: Viva Sarah Press)
An impressive array of Israel's top pop and rock performers gathered last week in Tel Aviv to announce their participation the city's eighth annual Piano Festival, which is set to take place November 1 through 3 at the Suzanne Dellal Center.
With musically spare performances that highlight the piano, members of the festival's characteristically strong line-up will also debut new songs and new versions of past work.
Five-time piano festival performer Shlomi Shaban will return this year with "An Evening in Black and White," a piano recital that will include both familiar tunes and new songs from his forthcoming album. "The first reason to come to this festival is because it offers original shows... there's something special about being at the first concert," Shaban said.
Originally launched as a celebration of Israeli piano music, the festival features mainstream artists performing without their standard musical accompaniment. The result is three days of intimate performances offering a welcome twist on individual artist's usual shows.
Rock artist Arkadi Duchin, another member of the festival roster, has announced that rather than perform songs off his latest Hebrew-language album, he'll sing in Russian. "The producers of the festival allow artists to experiment and create shows that they really want to do. [The organizers] were happy to have me on the bill playing Russian songs," he said.
One of the festival's central shows will mesh the talents of eight acts. Titled "Eight Years - Eight Women," the concert will feature performers including Din Din Aviv, Efrat Ben Zur, Ninet Tayeb and Melanie Peres, with each performing two songs with piano accompaniment.
In a separate performance, rock performer Korin Allal will revisit songs from her top-selling 1989 album, Antarctica, with the help of rock veteran Yehudit Ravitz, who produced the album. Allal says she's looking forward to the unique format offered by the festival. "I don't usually perform with a piano on stage. It gives the concert a different ambiance," Allal told The Jerusalem Post.
One of the more surprising bands on the festival line-up is eight-member pop ensemble Funk'n'stein. Known for music featuring strong horn rhythms, prominent percussion and sharp guitars, the band has decided to unplug a bit for a first-of-its-kind acoustic concert around a grand piano. "If you'd asked me five years ago about playing at the Piano Festival, I wouldn't have thought we'd be here. Now it feels perfect," the band's Elran Dekel said. "We're not a piano-driven band, and the festival gives us a chance to play songs that we don't usually do in our shows, in a way that gives them a whole different [sound]."
Other concerts on the festival schedule include joint shows by Dana Berger and Yoni Bloch, Aviv Gefen and Eran Mitelman, and Nurit Galron and Avi Kushnir. Additional artists set to perform include Evyatar Banai, Asaf Amdursky, Efrat Gosh, Matti Caspi and Aya Corem.
In keeping with festival tradition, a handful of free performances will be offered in the Suzanne Dellal Center courtyard each day. Among the artists giving free outdoor performances are Yaron Mitelman, Asaf Avidar and Keren Hadar.