From practice to performance

Keshet Eilon is warming up for its 23rd international summer master course for string musicians.

July 10, 2013 12:21
3 minute read.
Tanja Becker-Bender

Tanja Becker-Bender. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Keshet Eilon’s 23rd summer master course for string players opens on July 21 at Kibbutz Eilon in the western Galilee. The three-week master course offers young musicians private lessons and master classes given by some of the world’s finest teachers and artists, as well as performance in evening concerts at the kibbutz.

This year, the course hosts 39 student violinists and 15 viola and cello students from 25 countries, such as Israel Australia, Canada, China, Croatia, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the US.

The course activities are open to the public, many of them free of charge, such as private lessons, master classes and open-air concerts. The concerts at the music center hall cost a nominal fee.

A gala concert at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center entitled Opera House on Wednesday will take place on July 31, featuring performances by student soloists and joint studentfaculty ensembles.

Special programs include Russia Days, devoted to the Russian violin school of the 20th century, an homage to the great Russian violinist Mischa Elman and others. An intriguing aspect will be an encounter with pianist Joseph Seiger, who worked and recorded with Elman during the last 15 years of the violinist’s life and who now lives in Israel.

Innovative activities range from practice and performance in chamber groups to Olympic archery practice for string instrumentalists – a synergistic form of recreation pioneered at Keshet Eilon.

Among the faculty members are veteran Keshet Eilon teachers – important violinists and pedagogues who return to Israel now and again, as well as musicians of younger generations, such as Tanja Becker-Bender, a rising star from Germany who was a Keshet Eilon student in 1997 and now has a solid international career as a soloist and chamber musician.

“I’m very happy to come to Israel as a Keshet Eilon faculty member in many ways,” says Becker-Bender in a phone interview from her home. “I felt most honored when KE artistic director Itzhak Rashkovsky asked me to join the faculty of this prestigious summer course. Many of my musical friends are Israelis, and this will also be a great opportunity for me to return to my past. I still have vivid memories from 1997: highlevel training, plenty of young talents and, yes, archery, a very special experience that helps to develop concentration.”

As a performer, Becker-Bender appears all over the world. She says that for her, contemporary music is of major interest.

“I am particularly fascinated by the music of the beginning of the 20th century, when music languages became so varied. Such composers as Bartok and Prokofiev especially attract me, and I recently recorded a CD of Shulhoff’s music. I also enjoy working with current composers. I will be performing a Ligeti concerto soon and will be working on it while in Israel, too.”

Becker-Bender is a professor of violin in Hamburg. What are her principles as a teacher? 

“To develop individual perception and performing style of every student. That is the only way,’” she replied without hesitation.

In a summer course that lasts only three weeks, what can be taught during this rather short period of time? 

“Three weeks is not enough to really develop something, but within that time you can share new ideas with your students and challenge them. That is exactly what I am planning to do this summer,” she said.

Lodging is available at Kibbutz Eilon and the surrounding kibbutzim and moshavim.

For more information and a detailed schedule of Keshet Eilon activities, visit or call (04) 985- 8191; (04) 985-8131

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