Taking it from the street

Street Philharmonic is a project that fuses love of music with a desire to capture the sound of the city.

Taking it from the street (photo credit: Courtesy)
Taking it from the street
(photo credit: Courtesy)
On May 4, a large group of musicians will perform at the Barby Club in Tel Aviv. Established in 2012, Street Philharmonic is a band fused with a love of music and the desire to capture the sound of the city. Something of a social phenomenon, the band is imbued with all the drive and spirit of the start-up nation. Mott the Hoople may have sung “All the young dudes carry the news,” but gender and youth aside, it’s actually the spirit of the age that has seen this group of dynamic young Israelis rise to the challenge to empower their generation and enrich their society.
Narkis Alon, a lively young and articulate Tel Avivian, together with twin brothers Yonatan and Daniel Winkler, founded the Ze-Ze Collective.(www.ze-ze.org), which aims to strike a balance between entertainment and social engagement.
“Our vision is to enable young people to develop themselves while they simultaneously develop the society. We create a ‘bank’ of young people according to their natural talent, and we position them in suitable social projects that members of the community initiate,” Alon explains.
Street Philharmonic is just one of these projects and is the musical, creative arm of the Ze-Ze organization. The other projects are not only for the benefit of the young but are no less engaging.
“We have two day centres for the elderly, where we have created special activities that young people lead. We’ve had a film course, a belly dancing course, yoga classes and much more. We also work with the Scouts to create summer camps for young people, and then train and empower teenagers to be counselors at the summer camps,” he says.
Although Street Philharmonic has been in existence only since 2012, it has already had sell-out shows at Reading 3 in Tel Aviv and has attracted well-known Israeli musicians such as Karolina, Berry Sakharof and Danny Sanderson.
In the beginning, “We just started going up to busking musicians in the street and telling them about the project. It was hard to engage them at first, as they thought, ‘Who are these young people? What do they want from us?’ We were disturbing them in their work, but eventually they saw that we were serious,” Alon recounts.
There are 14 members in the band, 10 of whom are street musicians and four are young people from the Ze-Ze community.
When the group first started out, says Alon, “We booked a show and promoted it; but after these shows, we then sold 30 shows to private companies, while also attracting young people into the shows to see the possibilities.”
This innovative use of the corporate sector to commercially provide funding is an inspired move that provides Street Philharmonic with the much-needed revenue to pay the musicians and reinvest into the project. In return, companies get “ethical entertainment,” says Alon.
In regard to the sound and style of the band, Alon says that “Diversity is the idea behind it. It’s world music. We have klezmer, Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, Balkan and Israeli songs all together. It’s also special because the musicians chose the songs that they like, and together they co-created the sound along with the producer.”
What can the audience look forward to at the Barby concert?
“The band are just as funny and charismatic and now, after a year, they are even better! We’ve got special guests Kobi Oz and Efrat Gosh joining us on stage, too. It’s going to be a great night of celebration but, most importantly, music and dancing,” says Alon.
Street Philharmonic performs on May 4 at the Barby Club in Tel Aviv. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. NIS 90/80. (03) 518-8123; www.barby.co.il