Musical themes

The 2010 Holon International Woman’s Festival showcases the best of Israel’s female singers and musicians.

February 26, 2010 20:17
Dance pioneer and Israel Prize winner Deborah Bert

deborah bertonoff 311. (photo credit: Michael Cohen)


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The city of Holon is set to host stars of the international and Israeli music scenes as part of the 15th International Woman’s Festival celebrating women’s achievements in the arts. The annual festival, organized by the Holon municipality and the Holon Theater, features performances of theater, dance, music, art and literature, film and visual arts, and invites leading women artists and performers to explore different aspects of womanhood.

Director of the Holon Theater, Guy Telem, told Metro that the theme this year is music and the musical arts.

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“We’ve invited a wide variety of singers and musicians from Israel and abroad to perform and celebrate,” Telem said. “And we’ve lined up four days of shows that cover just about every popular musical style: pop, jazz, funk, blues, soul, rock, marimba, flamenco and more.”

Headlining the event is British singer Alison Moyet, who will give a one-off performance of her latest blues- and jazz-influenced work, as well as past pop hits. Moyet is well known in the UK and USA for her 1980s hits with electro-pop duo Yazoo, as well as for her later solo career. Her latest solo album, “The Turn,” was released in 2007.

Guy Telem says it is very important that foreign artists like Moyet are invited to perform in Israel.

“There are a lot of foreign musicians who made a big impact on their genre,”  Telem states. “Alison Moyet and Yazoo were really influential in the British electro-pop scene in the ’80s, they were doing new things with electronic music, using synthesizers, but lots of Israelis just don’t know her work at all. Israelis need more opportunities to get to know international artists.”

As well as bringing artists from abroad, the festival will also host home-grown Israeli female performers, Telem says.

“We wanted to bring together the best of the best, singers and musicians who have been influential for a long time and rising stars, too,” he explains. “Some of the shows in the festival will be nostalgic, with a retro feel. For example, ‘My Girl,’ which is a performance by Israeli band Funk’n’Stein, is going to be a tribute to the Motown sound of the 1960s.”

The Motown sound is very much from ’60s era America, but Funk’n’Stein are a quintessential modern Israeli band.

“Funk’n’Stein created a really unique Israeli style of funk,” says Telem. “And that became really popular in the clubs in Tel Aviv. So this show takes the greatest hits of Motown and gives them a modern Israeli flavor.”

Funk’n’Stein will host singers Efrat Gosh, Ninette Tayeb, Yael Dekelbaum, Rona Kenan, Mika Sadeh and Gal De Paz, who will sing popular Motown hits by influential female singers including Diana Ross and The Supremes, and Gladys Knight.

Continuing with the nostalgic theme but moving rather closer to home, Telem explains that the festival has invited pioneer of Israeli rock Corinne Allal to celebrate the 25th anniversary of her album, “Motek,” with a one-off performance.

“Allal’s hit song ‘Al Tikra Li Motek’ (‘Don’t Call Me Sweetheart’) came to be a real classic of Israeli rock,” says Telem. “And it was an important milestone for the Israeli feminist movement too, because for the first time you had a woman rock singer with the message that women don’t need approval from guys.”

Allal’s “Motek” was also important in the development of Israeli women’s rock, says Telem, who emphasizes that “lots of rock music in Israel today can be considered an offshoot or a natural progress from ‘Motek.’”

AS WELL as celebrating classic hits, the festival will also showcase Israel’s best new talent. Highlights include a solo performance of new songs by singer-songwriter Efrat Gosh, whose jazz-influenced tunes and indie-style lyrics have scored her two number one hits in Israel since her debut in 2005. Perhaps because of Corinne Allal’s legacy, 24-year-old Gosh is also not afraid to confront women’s issues in her songs, addressing physical abuse and assault in her 2007 single “Boxing Match.”

“A lot of Israeli musicians are starting to get recognition abroad, as well as here in Israel,” says Telem. “The Woman’s Festival will have several performances by singers and musicians who are starting to have an international following.”

Included among these is virtuoso percussionist Noya Shlein, “a phenomenon” according to Telem, and who – at just 20 years old – is still a student.  In a show called “Hasoreret”(“The Rebellious Woman”), Shlein will host outspoken TV and radio host Merav Michaeli in what Telem says is a unique joint performance combining percussion and the spoken word with world music.

In another joint performance, jazz pianist Anat Fort will join Israeli master percussionist Zohar Fresco in an improvised set. A rising star in New York’s alternative jazz scene, Tel Aviv-born Fort divides her time between Israel and New York, where she is the first Israeli musician to be signed by the ECM label.

“Fort is becoming a really important talent in the world jazz scene, and Fresco is very well-known everywhere,” says Telem. “You could call this performance a one-on-one interview, a dialogue between Fort and Fresco.”

The other eclectic delights on offer at the festival include an all-female jazz trio –  The Lullabies – performing classic songs by male jazz singers Nat King Cole and Antonio Carlos Jobim, and a home-grown Flamenco ensemble, Las Mujeres, who will perform a modern Israeli take on the classic Spanish dance.

In addition to the musical performances, says Telem, the Woman’s Festival is to host two special events honoring two influential Israeli female artists. The first will be an evening dedicated to pioneer stage director Nola Chelton, and the second a special exhibition celebrating the 95th birthday of dance pioneer, Israel Prize winner and Holon resident Deborah Bertonoff. The exhibition will include photographs from different periods of Bertonoff’s life and career, as well as photographs by Hermann Larsky, Ayina Friedman and Michael Cohen, and a short film by Michal Bat-Adam.

The Woman’s Festival is just one of many cultural events initiated and hosted by the city of Holon over the past years.

“The festival is part of Holon’s drive to create a new city which has culture and the arts at the center,” says Telem. “The mayor and his team are building a new center of culture here.” 

Holon’s major cultural initiatives include the Mediatheque, the Children’s Museum and the Holon Theater, as well as the brand new Design Museum, which opens to the public on March 4.

The Holon International Woman’s Festival takes place on March 3-6. tickets and information about performances can be obtained from the Holon Theater for the Performing Arts, 11 Kugel Blvd, Holon, tel: (03) 502-3001

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