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Jesus, Christians claim, walked on water atop the Sea of Galilee. This August, two millennia later, musicians will perform Mozart - playing on water atop an Olympic-sized swimming pool in the Upper Galilee.
Okay, the musicians will be on a boat. But audiences will not want to miss this and other special performances as part of the Kol Hamusica in the Upper Galilee Festival, located in and around Kibbutz Kfar Blum. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this season, the festival features Israeli artists include Shlomi Shaban, Chen Zimbalista, the Aviv Quartet and Trio Mondrian.
In addition to such world-renowned ensembles, the festival also features what artistic director Michael Melzer calls "ad hoc ensembles." Melzer organizes the festival's featured musicians into various combinations for different concerts. Chamber music, he says, is an ideal genre for bringing people together, and even serves as a model for connecting people outside of a musical context.
"While playing chamber music, the most important thing is not the producing of sound, but actually listening to each other. On top of everything, the most important thing, not only for musicians but for every human society, is to be able to listen to each other. To create a way, especially in Israeli society, to enable different people to live together. I think this is one of the things chamber music can teach people," Melzer says. "Every player in the festival has his own ego, which is not very small for musicians. But they have to create something together. They have to be able to preserve their own ego, but to understand each other."
In honor of its 25th year bringing chamber music to the Upper Galilee, there will be a total of 25 concerts, including popular quintets by Mozart, Schubert, Dvorak, Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Brahms.
The swimming pool concert mentioned above is part of the Evening of Roses performance on August 4 at 9:30 p.m., which includes works by Mozart, Monteverdi and Israeli composer Haim Permont. Percussionist Chen Zimbalista will take advantage of his location, using the water as a percussion instrument.
On August 3 at 9:00 p.m. the festival presents rock pianist Shlomi Shaban joined by singer/songwriter Rona Keinan accompanied by a string quartet. Shaban will perform some of his original songs, plus excerpts from Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in D major K. 467 and Shostakovich's Piano Quintet Op. 57.
Another highlight is a mini-series for families - Kol Hamusica for Kids - which runs August 6-8. Included in the series is a concert of Grandma and Grandpa's Childhood Songs (there's ice cream after the concert), and an opportunity for families to be serenaded by music along hiking trails.
The festival also offers free open rehearsals for audiences to get a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process.
"I like it; it's kind of another performance. People want to hear what you think, what you have to say. It's fun - we sometimes talk to the audience, and ask them 'do you like it like this? Is it better like that?' A lot of the time we take their suggestions," Zimbalista said.
According to Melzer, the festival has played a major role in developing Israel's chamber music scene.
"When the festival started, it was really unique. There were not so many chamber music ensembles in Israel and not so many concerts. From then until now, we can see a very rapid and impressive development of chamber music venues in Israel. Audiences are much bigger than what it used to be. The festival brings into the light some new ensembles, such as the Aviv Quartet. The festival grew with them and they grew with the festival," Melzer says. "The other thing is that quite a lot of Israeli musicians met each other at the festival and created an ensemble together because of the festival. The festival proves that music can really change things."
Kol Hamusica in the Upper Galilee Festival runs from August 2-8 For more information, visit kol-hamusica.org.il or call (04) 681-6640 or (04) 681-6642. For tickets, call (03) 604-5000.