A call for two women

Gisele Ben-Dor will be conducting Betty Olivero’s piece ‘Kri’ot’ with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.

Betty Oliver 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Betty Oliver 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
They became friends as students of the Tel Aviv Music Academy – the would-be composer Betty Olivero and the would-be conductor Gisele Ben- Dor – and went on to continue their studies at Yale University. Their professional paths crossed more than once, as Ben-Dor conducted one of Olivero’s first pieces at Yale. On October 27 they will meet again at the Henry Crown auditorium in Jerusalem, when Ben-Dor will lead the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in the Israeli premiere of Olivero’s composition Kri’ot for saxophone and orchestra.
“The piece was commissioned by the Judaica Division of Harvard University for Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations,” Olivero tells The Jerusalem Post. “This is a huge institution, probably the largest in the world of this kind which, as they say, documents every contribution to Jewish civilization. The musical idea behind the piece was to use the saxophone as the human voice and the orchestra as the choir.”
Olivero explains that in search of inspiration, she went through an enormous amount of original Jewish music “from my own extensive collection and from other private collections.”
She was also interested in creating links between this music and other ethnic music of the world, “and for this I included a fragment originally performed on the duduk, an Armenian instrument, almost as is. The idea is to bring together the soul music of our culture and of other cultures, to present the instrument as an extension of the human being. In the piece, I never forget that this is not about a saxophone and an orchestra but about a praying human voice and a choir of human voices interacting with each other.”
Born in Uruguay to a family of Polish refugees, Ben-Dor immigrated to Israel on her own at 16. After finishing her music studies in this country, she won a scholarship to study at Yale. Making the US her home, she served as artistic director for several orchestras and conducted many important orchestras throughout the world, appearing in Israel as. She is known for promoting Latin American music.
Does she also promote music by Israeli composers? “I played and recorded it as much as I could when I had orchestras of my own,” says Ben-Dor, speaking on her cellphone in New Jersey on her way to family outing. “Now it depends on commissions. But I try to perform Israeli music whenever I can. I have known Betty since we were girls, and I knew her music from the very beginning. What I especially like is that while she stayed the same Betty, she has developed incredibly. Not long ago she sent me another new piece, and I can’t wait to perform it. This is a piece for an orchestra and magnetic band, and it is at the top of my list. Betty is devoted to the major sources of her inspiration, the Jewish and the Middle Eastern. This all comes from the innermost of her soul and this is why her pieces affect the audience emotionally.”
Gisele Ben-Dor conducts Kri’ot by Betty Olivero, with American saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky as soloist, on October 27 at the Henry Crown Auditorium of the Jerusalem Theater. The program also features Grieg’s piano concerto (soloist Prof. Tomer Lev) and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8. The concert begins at 8 p.m. highlights events movies television radio dining