This year’s Woman’s Festival in Holon is a milestone event in more senses than one. For starters, the upcoming week-long affair (March 8 to 14) marks the festival’s first decade of artistic and wider cultural endeavor. Not bad going at all. 2015 is also the 75th anniversary of the founding of Holon, so the festival program takes in 75 different slots across all kinds of fields of interest and the arts.
The festival starts on International Woman’s Day, opening with a styling workshop at Holon Theater at 7:30 p.m., featuring leading professional Mika Montana. That will be followed at the same venue by a spoken word session moderated by Sigal Libak. The next day, there is more poetry-oriented endeavor on offer when multidisciplinary artist Orly Natanel recites some of her written work and talks about her life.
Since its inception, the Woman’s Festival has been perceived as a primarily musical event. Indeed, top acts from here and abroad have done their bit to keep the festival goers entertained, but there is much more to the program on all sorts of fronts. For example, the conference on motherhood will look at different aspects of being a mother, such as how to juggle a career with the traditional domestic role, as well as the possibly controversial issue of women who proactively decide not to have children. Then there is the intriguing Inside and Out – Female Architects Engage in Holistic Architecture conference, which will address architecture from the outside to the interior and vice versa. The conference attendees will hear lectures by the likes of Paris-based stellar professional Adeline Rispal and compatriot Anouk Legendre and Yumiko Yamada from Japan, as well as a host of local architects such as Rutie Peker, Tamar Puzis and Carmella Jacoby-Volk.
As mentioned, there is plenty of musical fare on the roster over the seven days. For example, the Long and Winding Road slot features top female vocalists such as Riki Gal, Mika Karni and Yael Deckelbaum doffing their collective derby towards Sir Paul McCartney and his vast musical oeuvre. Elsewhere on the musical bill, rocker Dan Toren will host co-songwriter The Voice contestant Sivan Talmor in a session devoted to the process of creating a new rock number.
Some of the musical acts in the festival feed off a distinctly retro feel.
The Hazelnuts trio will perform a fun and emotive repertoire of songs that date back to the 1930s. Fans of swing jazz music should have a good time with the threesome, who will also play some of their own, more contemporary, compositions.
In Hebrew, the group goes by the name of Ha’ahayot Luz, which seems like a peculiar and incongruous moniker to adopt.
“We thought ‘luz’ sounded a bit like The Blues Brothers, which sounded good to us,” says Yifeat Ziv, one of the founding members of the female trio. “Then we dug a bit deeper into the sense of the name and discovered that it also references the core of something – like a nut has a core. We really connected with that concept. Also we delve back into the past for our music, to the roots of the music from almost a century ago.”
Ziv says that she and her bandmates – Shira Z.
Carmel and Sapir Rosenblatt – take their craft very seriously and investigate all the requisite musical and other associated angles before they get down to the business of putting a song out there.
“We constantly aim to achieve precise delivery of the music. We have to understand the exact meaning and cultural connotation of the words and get the harmonies down pat,” says Ziv.
So what makes a group of 20something women get into music that was all the rage when their grandparents were young? “Shira and I studied together at the [Rubin] Academy of Music in Jerusalem, and one day she played me ‘Bei Mir Bistu Shein’ – the  hit by The Andrews Sisters,” Ziv recalls. “Shira suggested we perform it at a little show at the academy, together with Talya Amzaleg, who was also originally in The Hazelnuts,” Ziv recounts.
It was love at first utterance.
“The moment we opened our mouths to sing that close-knit swingy harmony, we all felt the magic. We just fell in love with the music,” she says.
Once bitten, the three women immersed themselves in the art of close harmony singing and also fell under the spell of The Boswell Sisters act, which preceded the Andrews Sisters and topped the bill all over the United States for just over a decade from the mid-1920s.
The threesome officially got together in August 2013, and last year the band’s career path took a sudden lurch in a highly desirable direction.
“Last summer, we received an e-mail from the granddaughter of one of the Boswell Sisters,” explains Ziv. “Her name is Kayla and she said she’d found us on the Internet and thought we were great. She said there was going to be an a event in New Orleans to mark the centenary of her grandmother’s birth, or something like that, and she had decided to organize a tribute festival to the Boswell Sisters.”
After picking her lower jaw up off the floor, Ziv said that she and her pals in the group would be delighted to take part.
“There were seven groups invited from all around the world last October,” continues Ziv. “That was a fantastic experience.”
In the interim, Ziv, Carmel and Amzaleg – Rosenblatt replaced the latter just over a month ago – continued to hone their craft, get their harmonious renditions of hits of yesteryear absolutely watertight and also embellish their repertoire with some homespun songs.
“This music is so much fun,” says Ziv. “Audiences seem to love it just as much as do.”
And the members of the Holon audience will be invited to get into the spirit of the music by turning up in period costume.
This year’s Woman’s Festival program also includes movie screenings, theater productions and art exhibitions.For tickets and more information: (03) 502-3001 and www.hth.co.il.