A wider variety of venues

The Israel Festival Jerusalem takes you to unexpected places.

Hortus Musicus  (photo credit: Heikki Leis)
Hortus Musicus
(photo credit: Heikki Leis)
There are always new and wonderful events at the Israel Festival Jerusalem, which runs from May 23 to June 6. But there are some big changes in the festival’s 52nd year, notably the opening of new performance venues in the Holy City.
While of course there will concerts and shows in traditional spots, such as the Jerusalem Theater and the Gerard Behar Center, for the first time Jerusalem’s long-abandoned railroad station has become a performing center. The opening concert, a performance by Shlomi Shaban, who will be joined by Ninet Tayeb, Asaf Avidan and Berry Sakharof, will be held at The First Station, Hangar, part of a complex of stores, galleries and cafes that are just opening.
“This year’s festival will showcase the beauty of the city,” says Yossi Tal-Gan, the director of the Israel Festival Jerusalem. “People can come for the art and then stay and enjoy Jerusalem.”
Other new and fascinating venues this year include Beit Hansen, or Hansen Hospital, just down the street from the Jerusalem Theater, which was built in the 19th century and was once the site of Jerusalem’s leper colony.
It has just been renovated.
“It’s a mysterious, spiritual place,” says Tal-Gan. The L-E-V Dance Company, run by Sharon Eyal and Gal Behar, has chosen to perform its new piece, Housen , at Beit Hansen, and a stage has been built there especially for the occasion.
Another dance piece in an unusual venue Tal-Gan is excited about is Dressed to Dance: Picasso and Dali Dance Flamenco , which will be performed outdoors at the Tower of David Museum.
The performance is part dance concert and part runway fashion show.
Directed by Margaret Y.Jova and choreographed by Carlos Chamorro, it features costumes designed by Picasso and Dali, as well as leading fashion designers from the 20th century. The dancers are from the Flamenco company, headed by Sharon Sagi, a Jerusalem-based flamenco dancer.
Among many concerts at the Tower of David Museum will be Holy City, a project by the Estonian orchestral ensemble and Latvian choir, which will perform ancient pieces about Jerusalem.
The centennial of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring will be commemorated by a performance by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Israel Broadcasting Authority at the Jerusalem Theater, which will be preceded by an introductory lecture by Emanuel Halperin and a screening of a film about The Rite of Spring .
Virtually every genre of music is represented in the festival. Don Byron, a leading saxophone and clarinet player, is bringing his New Gospel Quintet to the Hangar at the Railway Station. His group performs a rare hybrid of jazz and gospel.
The Pais Jazz Fusion Club will present free performances by various artists at the First Station and Ben Shetach pedestrian mall. A series of classic music concerts by young artists will be held in and around Ein Kerem.
In Avital Meets Avital, Avi Avital, a Grammy-nominated mandolin player, will join forces with bass and oud player and composer Omer Avital. They will be joined by composer and pianist Omer Klein and percussionist Itamar Doari in a performance at the YMCA that mixes musical genres.
Those who love classic Israeli pop music won’t be disappointed either. The closing show of the festival is a performance by the 1970s Israeli pop group Kaveret (aka Poogy) at the Sultan’s Pool.
Kaveret is celebrating the 40 anniversary of its founding. Pop star Miri Mesika will also be performing at the Hangar.
In terms of unusual venues, perhaps the most noteworthy is the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. The zoo is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and there will concerts that feature Irish music, jazz, Dixie, world and Jewish music, theater performances, juggling workshops and more, all designed to please both adults and children.
Other children’s events include The Girl with a Brave Heart, a Tale from Tehran , performed by the Orna Porat Theater for Children and Youth, based on a story by pop diva Rita.
As You Like It is an abridged Hebrew version of the Shakespeare classic, performed by the Mediatheque Theater in conjunction with Beit Lessin, and is geared toward children ages eight and older.
These are just a few of the dozens of musical, theater and dance performances that will be part of this year’s Israel Festival Jerusalem.
For more information and to order tickets, go to http://israel- festival.org.il/2010/.