A festival for all

The Israel Festival is back. Performers from here and abroad will offer a wide range of performances.

Aurelia Thierée 370 (photo credit: Richard Haughton)
Aurelia Thierée 370
(photo credit: Richard Haughton)
The Israel Festival 2012 is out to prove the old adage that good things come in small packages, that it’s quality, not quantity, that makes a festival.
As always, it takes place in and around the Jerusalem Theater as well as at other Jerusalem venues.
Certain performances will also play at Holon and Modi’in, among others.
“Creativity is the ability to reinterpret or reinvent an idea, and make it visible, accessible and relevant” says Festival artistic director Moshe Kepten, adding that this year’s somewhat downsized festival indicates a return to its roots.
“There are 31 events,” he said at Monday’s press conference introducing the festival, that reflect the changing tastes of today’s audiences. String quartets are “out.” Multi- or interdisciplinary is “in,” and this year’s offerings reflect that perception.
While there are contributions from 12 countries, three are special. Japan, the first nation in Asia to recognize Israel, celebrates 60 years of diplomatic relations while the Czech Republic and China weigh in with 20. To mark the anniversary each has sent some of its best to the Festival.
Praising the Israel Festival’s contribution to awareness of Jerusalem as a destination for cultural tourism, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said his administration has inaugurated a multi-year cultural and infrastructure upgrade program which he invites to festival to exploit. “I challenge you to challenge us,” he said.
Some highlights
The Festival’s opening show will be a tribute to the late, very great Yossi Banai (1932-2006) at Safra Square.
The Yamato drummers of Japan with Gamushara (reckless in Japanese), and from China Nine Scrolls, a legend that traces the development of Kung Fu.
From the Czech Republic The Forman Brothers – twin sons of famed movie director Milos Forman – bring their Obludarium, a circus cabaret in a big tent, to the Jerusalem Theater plaza.
Charlie Chaplin’s daughter Victoria Thierre Chaplin directs her own daughter Aurelia Thierée in her surrealistic non-verbal Murmures des Murs, the story of a woman seeking her place in the world.
Israel’s contribution is Moshe Kepten’s production of the Tony Award (1998) winning musical Parade that tells the terrible story of Leo Frank, tried, condemned and lynched in 1915 for a rape he didn’t commit. It’s a joint Israel/UK and US production in English.
Two kinds of Baroque music from the 17th and 18th centuries are on offer: Accentus Austria plays us all kinds of lovely stuff, folk and classical, from the then-Austro-Hungarian Empire, and from Columbia comes Musica Ficta, giving us the rare chance to hear music by South American composers.
Eminent US /musicologist conductor Murray Sidlin has a story to tell. In 1943 at Terezin, or Theresienstadt, the Nazis’ show camp, the equally eminent conductor Raphael Schächter conducted Verdi’s Requiem before an audience of SS and other assorted thugs.
“We can sing to the Nazis what we cannot say to them,” he is reputed to have said. Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin is Sidlin’s concert drama of that event in narrative and film with Israeli solists and the Kuhn Choir from Prague.
Tango fans will be able to experience Tangueros Del Sur from Argentina, our old friend Momix returns with its earth-friendly Botanica and dance sensation from Japan Saburo Teshigawara and his company offer Mirror and Music.
Let’s not forget the kids. For them there’s the Flying Karamazov Brothers – juggling Jewish brothers from New York, and The Bell Child, a musical by Nava Semel and Ben Artzi.
For 10 years the budget has stood at around NS 10 million and “that we make the festival a success is due to the generous support we get from the various participating countries,” said Festival CEO Yossi Talgan.
Ticket prices range from NIS 40 to NIS 200 with all kinds of deals and discounts. They’ll be available online from April 24 and go on sale generally after Pessah.