By MAXIM REIDER
The annual Feast of Israeli Music will take place between September 21 and 24 in four Israeli cities - Rishon Lezion, Haifa, Beersheba and Givataim, for the twelfth year running. Excepting one, all of the events are free of charge, but seats must to be reserved in advance.
"The aim of the Feast is to promote top quality Israeli art," explains composer Michael Wolpe, the Artistic Director of the festival. "The programs are extremely diverse and include both classics such as Menachem Avidom's fully-staged opera based on Ephraim Kishon's The Swindler and rock, lots of rock.
"We try to change the concept and the model of the festival every year, and our devoted audience fills the concert halls to capacity," he adds.
In this project, as in his other activities, Wolpe, a true champion of local art, is devoted to his motto, that "Everything that is Israeli and talented is welcome."
With all of the diversity on hand, as top orchestras, chamber ensembles and soloists take the stage, the one constant will be the home ensemble, Meitar, who Wolpe says "will appear every night and perform a lot of music."
Among the festival highlights Wolpe mentions is a new Concerto for Harp and Orchestra by Haim Permont, a concerto for two pianos to be performed by Ami Maayani in Rishon Lezion, and a "wonderful evening in Beersheba with outstanding mandolin player Shmuel Elbaz."
"That said," wolpe adds, "it is quite difficult to single out this or that program, since the festival is a sort of music marathon, and once entering the concert hall, you are swept away by the music and you simply stay - if you have enough time for it."
This is Wolpe's fourth year in the position and he's also the founder and artistic director of the successful Sounds of the Desert Festival. Still, organizing music life in this country has never been a simple task, and Wolpe says that he has learned a thing or two from his experiences.
"First," he says, "that persistence pays off. Just look at our Sounds of the Desert Festival, which started from scratch and is now one of the most successful music events in the country.
"Second, that you have to be flexible and follow the changes in the world of music. Obviously, if you build your programs according to 50-year-old models of "serious" concert hall music, you will probably fail. But look - nowadays there is a great deal of interaction between classics, rock, jazz and Mizrahi music! And if you go with this new flow, you have a few good reasons to be optimistic!"
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