OMER MEIR WELLBER.
(photo credit: FELIX BROEDE)
The Ra’anana Symphonette Orchestra is ready to open their series of 14 concerts for the 2018-2019 concert season on October 10 in the Ra’anana Auditorium. “I am very excited,” says music director Omer Meir Wellber. “This year we invited the stars of the Israeli music scene, many who live abroad, to showcase our concerts.”
“We, the soloists, guest conductors, as well as myself, are part of an international community of Israeli musicians who live and work abroad, yet share in each other’s life dialogues. The orchestra and I decided to bring these friends from all over the world, and build a season upon their shoulders.
“We managed to shape a concert series which is a true balance between classic and non-classic repertoire, performed and conducted by charismatic Israeli artists who are building their reputation on the international stage. Our concert season begins with Israeli conductor Nimrod David Pfeffer, who will arrive from the Metropolitan Opera of New York after a successful run of Don Giovannis at the Israeli Opera a few months ago. The soloist at our opening will be the Israeli-American pianist Elisha Abbas. Pfeffer and Abbas will present an all-Mozart program.
“Gilad Karni, the critically acclaimed violist, has been discussing the possibility of appearing with me and the orchestra these two years and finally it happens. That’s beautiful.
“Later in the season, Guy Braunstein, past konzertmeister of the Berliner Philharmoniker for 10 years, will be appearing with us. He has recently embarked on a career combining conducting and playing and will present a Viennese program with the Israeli flautist Gili Schwarzmann.”
Gil Shohat will conduct the Ra’anana Symphonette in March with singer Keren Hadar, who is considered one of the top performers of the music of Kurt Weill. Shohat will also showcase several of his arrangements of movements of Ravel’s Trombeau de Couperin.
The Ra’anana Symphonette has a tradition of introducing new music to its audiences. “We decided in 2010, when I became music director,” explains Wellber, “that we would embark on a process of ‘mutual education’ with regard to programming. Every concert, every month, we play a short contemporary piece of music. I usually select pieces that tell a story and are under 10 minutes of duration. Our audiences have come to trust us and tell us, ‘That was short and it was not so bad.’
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“We are not afraid to try, and sometimes make mistakes, (which the audience also tells us). We are in communication through Facebook, email, in person and on the phone. I try to listen and respond individually to the various opinions. However, I believe consistency is vital in introducing an audience to different types of music and building an identity as a music director. In essence, you are building a relationship between yourself and the audience. Consistency is not rigidity, and I believe the end result is satisfaction. Each concert is repeated two of three times on consecutive evenings, and our audiences are growing.”
The RSO programs are a balance of orchestral, vocal, choral, classical, non-classical and new music. Wellber thinks music has a tremendous cultural impact. “Therefore,” he explains, “we include in our programs Jewish music in all of its spheres. Our final concert of the season will feature the world premiere of Haim Permont’s orchestral work, “The Heart and the Fountain,” based upon “A man of Truth” by R. Nahman from Breslov. The balance of the program is Tchaikovsky Symphony No.5, and Nitai Zori, concertmaster of the RSO, performing the Kabelevsky Violin Concerto.”
Innovations of sound using a variety of instruments are tremendously appealing to Wellber. In May, the Jerusalem duo of Hila Ofek on harp and Andre Tsirlin on saxophone will present Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp.
“I was skeptical at first,” says Wellber, “but when I heard the glorious sound produced by these two, I was just blown away.”
In June, David and Michael Greilsammer will create a first onstage encounter with the RSO. David, the pianist, is famous in the contemporary and early music scene and leads the Genève Chamber Orchestra. Michael is a singer and violinist in the reggae and pop spheres, with a fan base in Israel and France. They have never appeared on the same stage in Israel. This year it happens in Ra’anana with the Ra’anana Symphonette.
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