Much more than Baroque quartets

John Malkovich is one of the highlights of this year’s Eilat Chamber Music Festival.

comedy370 (photo credit: Olga Martschitsch)
(photo credit: Olga Martschitsch)
The eighth annual Eilat Chamber Music Festival, one of the country’s most intriguing and high-quality music events, takes place this year from April 28 – May 4.
“Eight years is not so much for a festival, but based on the ensembles and artists that have appeared on our stages, one can see that age is not the only criterion for judging the maturity and achievements of a festival,” says founder and artistic director Leonid Rozenberg.
The idea behind the festival was to bring high- quality musical culture to the southernmost Israeli sea resort and contribute to the development of its tourism, but not only.
“With all due respect to the intensity of musical life in Israel, I see it as rather conservative – the same artists and ensembles return to Israel again and again. Not being a professional producer – that is, someone for whom organizing music events is the major source of income – I could not have afforded the music quality and innovation to compete with the profitability of the festival. That said, any festival has to earn money, otherwise it cannot exist,” he says.
Since chamber music has always been at the heart of Rozenberg’s professional interests – he is a violinist, violin teacher and music life organizer – the festival hosts top European chamber musicians and ensembles, chamber orchestras and chamber operas.
Many of them not only made their debuts in Israel but also world premiered their new programs. The performers have included La Venexiana, Concerto Koln, the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, La Serenissima, pianist Evgeni Koroliov, actor Sir Roger Moore, violinists Julian Rachlin and Maxim Vengerov and cellists Mischa Maisky and Nathalie Clein.
“During the last 20 years, many interesting changes have occurred in the performing approach, which are not so familiar to Israeli music lovers, and my idea was to bring these artists here,” says Rozenberg. “We try to be up to date and to bring the musicians who are kind of incarnations of the contemporary performing aesthetics.”
In addition to concerts, there are international master classes during the festival, which allows young musicians from Israel and abroad to study with top musicians.
“This year, the Keshet Eilon Israeli violin master course will conduct its spring seminary with us, for the second time now,” he says.
The major star of the eighth edition of the festival is John Malkovich, who brings The infernal Comedy – Confessions by a Serial Killer , a musical drama created by Michael Sturminger and Martin Haselbock, in cooperation with the actor.
“No need to introduce Malkovich as an actor, but he is a very interesting personality, and this is not his first music project,” says Rozenberg.
Among the other participants are young Russian violinist Valery Sokolov, “who made his Israeli debut last year in Eilat, and we have invited him again because of the extremely high quality of his performance. This time, he is coming with pianist Igor Tchetuev, once a Rubinstein Competition winner and now a successful performer,” he says.
In addition, says Rozenberg, pianist Alexander Melnikov will perform. “A very unusual musician, the sound of the piano under his fingers sounds almost like a string instrument. He will appear with the Doric Quartet from England, which is already familiar to Israelis. It is a very good young ensemble, one of the new excellent quartets that have recently come into existence,” he says.
Among the cellists are Leonid Gorokhov from England and Hidemi Suzuki. The latter will appear with the Wiener Akademie Orchestra; the pianist of the old school, with the rich vocal sound Oxana Yablonskaya.
This is just a partial list of performers and events. This year, the festival will be hosted by the Dan Hotel.
“This is the best location we can find in Eilat,” says Rozenberg. “The concerts will take place in two halls, and at least one of them has high ceilings, which is so important for acoustics.”
For the complete program: