'Providing a feast of culture - that's the aim of the Kfar Blum Festival," says Michael Melzer, its artistic director. Offically known as the Voice of Music in Upper Galilee Chamber Music Festival, it starts its 23 annual season this Thursday and continues through August 4 at Kibbutz Kfar Blum's Hotel Pastoral. "We see it as important to put European chamber music into an Israeli context," says Meltzer. "That finds expression both in repertoire and in performance. Both young and senior Israeli musicians take part, including those who build their careers abroad." As examples, Melzer cites Ron Ephrat, the principal violist of the Rotterdam Philharmonic, who also appears around the world with different chamber groups, and young German-based pianist Adi Bar, who on this visit to Kfar Blum, his fourth, will accompany a mini-festival of lieder. The Israeli Trio is one veteran ensemble, while the Mondrian Trio, recent winners at a major contest in Trieste, represent the up-and-coming generation. Tabea Zimmerman, one of the world's leading violists, will also be on hand. Repertoire-wise, old and tried European composers - Mozart, Brahms, J.S. Bach and Vivaldi - will be played side by side with Israeli ones. "We even have an entire evening, involving many participants, dedicated to Israeli composer Menachem Wiesenberg, as well as a number of premieres of Israeli pieces at other concerts," says Melzer. Those curious to see how music is born may attend open rehearsals for free. Melzer sees the festival's connection with the Galilee and its people as essential. "For us, it is important to make concerts in cooperation with the local artists, such as the Upper Galilee choir or writer Anton Shamosh. We also set up concerts in special sites, such as the historic Tel Hai courtyard. We aim to strengthen the ties to the land by bringing music to various picturesque locations, some suitable for families with children, others for romantic couples of all ages." Nature trips, many organized in cooperation with the Jewish National Fund, are combined with brief outdoor concerts. "These concerts are aimed at those who are still not ready to listen to an entire program, in hopes that one day they will come to a 'real' concert." For nature lovers, the festival offers a wide variety of guided trips and special programs, from short walking tours to jeep tours, from a night concert in the magnificent Nimrod Fortress overlooking the valley to a peaceful afternoon welcoming in of the Sabbath at the new and beautiful Kibbutz Yiron vinery. Some of the concerts are aimed at children, "who are our future audience," notes Meltzer. Melzer himself, who is flute player and a specialist in baroque music, will perform a program for the little listeners, "dedicated to the flute family. I shall tell a story of all these flutes and recorders and play a piece on each of them." Details at www.galil-elion.org.il/music. Reservations: Castel, (03) 604-5000; Klayim, (02) 622-2333; Bimot, (02) 623-7000 - or (04) 866-2244 or at the site www.tkts.co.il.