When you're talking about titans of new Israeli poetry they don't come much bigger than the late Israel Prize recipients Dahlia Ravikovitch and Yehuda Amichai. So, an event devoted to songs based on some of their works can be expected to offer ample musical and textural rewards.
This Friday at noon the Mediatheque auditorium in Holon will host the Two Hopes Away (Bemerhak Shtei Tikvot) concert, as part of the Let the Words Work on You (Ten Lamillim Laasot Bekha) series, which fuses not only poems by Ravikovitch and Amichai, performed by a whole slew of top pop and rock stars, but also features poetry readings and a presentation by Romanian-born Israeli sculptor Philip Rantzer.
As befitting poets of such stature, the performer roster makes for impressive reading and includes Efrat Gosh, Yahli Sobol, Shlomi Shaban, Eran Tzur and Karni Postel. All can be counted on to do justice to Ravikovitch and Amichai's raw material and some have dipped their toes in the Ravikovitch-Amichai waters before.
Postel, who will join forces with Gosh for the occasion, has addressed Amichai's poem Beterem in the past, and even included a version of it in her album, Heder, which she released earlier this year. While the so-called retro trend still appears to be in full swing, for Postel, putting Amichai's poems to music is a labor of love rather than some forced nostalgia trip.
"I began reading Yehuda Amichai's works a long time ago," says the vocalist and cellist. "I think new Israeli poetry has a lot to offer, and I think that once you get past a certain age and past the wilder years of your youth, his poems begin to resonate strongly with you. They are a part of me."
Postel also sees nothing wrong with feeding others' creative juices. "When you start out you want to focus on what you do, on your own material. I think, at some stage, every musician goes back to the older stuff. Eran Tzur, for instance; he's always written his own material and also delved into the works of artists from previous generations. I feel we can only be enriched by going back to the sources."
On Friday, the Postel-Gosh duo will also perform Amichai's Shir Leyl Shabbat, which Postel finds very powerful. "I saw Hava Alberstein sing that; it's to music by Moshe Vilensky. Two giants like Amichai and Vilensky together - that's an incredible combination."
WHILE SOME may equate drawing on past works as a soft option, Postel begs to differ, certainly when it comes to her poet of choice. "Amichai always put it out there," she says. "He never pulled his punches, even when he wrote about some romantic or intimate situation. There was always something hard edged and political to his work. I am not a political animal myself. I find it hard to write about anything that may be contentious, but I really admire people who express their political views in their poetry. Amichai excelled at that."
Amichai's poetry is certainly no stranger to musical accompaniment, with over 100 of his works having been set to music, both in Israel and abroad. Meanwhile, Ravikovitch's poems generally present tunesmiths with a somewhat greater challenge. Still, quite a number of her creations have also found their way into song, most notably on a recent album recorded by veteran rock group Nikmat Hatractor's frontman Avi Baleli and singer-songwriter Yehudit Ravitz, titled simply Baleli Ravitz Ravikovitch.
The Two Hopes Away program includes four Ravikovitch poems and includes two versions of Shohevet al Hamayim (Lying on the Water), one by pianist-vocalist-composer Shlomi Shaban and one by Tzur. Gosh will offer her readings of Ravikovitch's Hanesiha (The Princess) and Lezikhroh Shel Antoine de Saint-ExupÃ©ry (In Memory of Antoine de Saint-ExupÃ©ry), and marimba player and vocalist Assaf Rott will perform Hitrosheshut (Impoverishment).
For more information about the Two Hopes Away concert go to: www.mediatheque.org.il