Not as a stranger

Estonian violinist Andres Mustonen conducts the Israel Camerata in a mix of old and new.

Not as a stranger  (photo credit: Courtesy)
Not as a stranger
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘I do not want to be perceived in Israel as a visiting artist,” says Estonian violinist cum conductor Andres Mustonen, who will lead the Israel Camerata in an eclectic program between April 4 – 12. “I see myself as part of local musical life; I feel at home here,” he asserts. And for good reason.
Mustonen, a musician with a global career, first performed in Israel with his ancient music ensemble Hortus Musicus in the late 1980s. “This was even before the diplomatic relations between Israel and the USSR were have been restored, a fact that caused kind of a scandal at the Soviet Ministry of Culture, but in the end everybody was happy and grateful because in a way, we were the first to open doors to Israel for other artists,” recalls Mustonen in a phone interview from Tallinn.
Now he performs regularly in Israel, appearing with local orchestras and at major international festivals, such as the Israel Festival in Jerusalem and Eilat International Chamber Music Festival.
Recently, Malle Talvet Mustonen, an Estonian intellectual who was recruited to serve the country after it gained independence from Russia, was appointed ambassador of Estonia to Israel. “But that is not the only reason that brings me to Israeli stages but rather the inner feeling,” he says. “I want to contribute to Israeli musical life as a violinist, conductor and music life organizer – I’ve been generating music projects for my entire professional life.”
Mustonen also invites Israeli artists to participate in his projects in Estonia, and not only.
“Israeli soprano Claire Meghnnagi participated in a production of a Baroque opera at the Tallinn Opera theater and in a few days will sing in a big Palmsontag concert in a church in Finland. Another singer, Etti Ben-Zaken, appeared with a large symphony orchestra in Tallinn, performing music by Israeli composer Yoseph Bardanashvili – to great success,” he says.
“This, by the way, is just another facet of my cooperation with Israeli artists. I have conducted Bardanashvili’s music, mostly huge choral works, many times, and next time it will be at the Dome Cathedral in Riga. I also use my international connections to bring Israeli artists to participate in various musical events in Western and Eastern Europe. For example, Israeli cellist Hillel Tzori and his trio will perform at a chamber music festival in Germany,” he adds.
Next year, Mustonen will host the Israeli Camerata in his own annual Mustonen Fest, which takes place at the beginning of February. “This year, I already had a wonderful collaboration with Israeli bassoon player Mor Biron,” he says.
Back to Israel. At the end of this year, Mustonen will conduct the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in a liturgical program featuring monumental pieces by Haydn and Handel, and next year he will lead the orchestra in works by Mahler and Arvo Part.
The current program of the Camerata features both new and Baroque music.“We will perform music of my favorite contemporary composers – Agnus Dei by Krzysztof Penderecki; Trisagion by Arvo Part; and Silent Music by Valentyn Sylvestrov,” says Mustonen, “as well as pieces by Vivaldi, Bach’s Violin Concerto No. 1 (which I will perform) and Handel’s Gloria . I am happy I managed to bring prominent Italian soprano Gemma Bertagnolli, with whom I have worked more than once.”
April 4, 6, 8, 12 at The Tel Aviv Museum of Art. April 9 at the Jerusalem Theater. April 10 at the Kiryat Sapir Auditorium, Kfar Saba. April 11 at the Wix Auditorium, Weizmann Institute, Rehovot. For more details and reservations: