Expanding the musical horizons

Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon Lezion’s new season includes popular favorites, as well as more challenging compositions.

Dan Ettinger (photo credit: Dan Forges)
Dan Ettinger
(photo credit: Dan Forges)
The Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon Lezion, which also serves as the orchestra of the Israeli Opera, opens the 2012-2013 season in its home city of Rishon Lezion and in Tel Aviv. Participating in the rich and varied program are a number of excellent soloists and conductors, such as worldrenowned cellist Nathaly Klein from London, Israeli pianist/conductor David Greailsammer, pianist Daniil Trifonov, violist Gilad Karni and conductor Paolo Olmi.
Music director and principal conductor of the Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon Lezion Dan Ettinger, one of the most successful Israeli conductors of the young generation, spoke to The Jerusalem Post about the new season.
After spending five years at the Staatsoper Unter den Linde, where he first was the assistant to maestro Daniel Barenboim and then served as the kapellmeister, Ettinger currently serves as the general music director of the Nationaltheater Mannheim and chief conductor of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.
In addition, he appears as a guest conductor at some of the world’s best opera theaters, such as the Metropolitan Opera of New York and Covent Garden in London..
“For me, it is important to have an orchestra of my own,” says Ettinger in a phone interview from Mannheim. “As Sir John Barbirolli said at the beginning of his conducting career, it is very easy to conduct the world’s best orchestras, but working for years with the same orchestra, which is not as great, you can achieve far better results.
Another important thing, which I heard from my mentor maestro Daniel Barenboim and which I have realized only now. is that it takes about 10 years of conducting and learning from orchestras to reach a kind of maturity. It is the ultimate artistic satisfaction to reach an understanding with the orchestra that you’ve been working with for years, so that it plays in your individual style – the one that you developed yourself.”
The Rishon Lezion Orchestra undoubtedly benefits from having a young and vigorous conductor of international stature on its podium.
“Everybody knows that it is not that easy to bring soloists and conductors to Israel. Here, musicians earn significantly less than in other places, so to come here they need additional reasons, which could be artistic or personal reasons or maybe their Jewish roots. Anyway, creating a season’s program takes about eight moths of intensive work, which starts from scratch and requires discussions with the orchestra’s management and various advisors,” he says.
Ettinger explains that the program is basically built on popular pieces.
“It is no secret that a substantial part of the audience comes to hear familiar music. There is nothing wrong with that, and we don’t try to fight it. We have no problem performing Mozart’s 41st Symphony or the 8th by Dvorak or Tchaikovsky’s 4th because this is a great music. But in between, we play pieces that have not been performed for a long time or not at all, like The Planets by Holst.”
As always, the season program features vocal pieces. “I will not be at the opening concert, and I really envy the conductor Paolo Olmi, who will lead Puccini’s Missa di Gloria,” says Ettinger.
He stresses that in addition to familiar pieces, there also are challenging ones, such as a piece by Ligeti.
“We challenge and maybe even educate our audience, and we hope that maybe that will stop fearing contemporary music.”
The orchestra’s program also includes pieces by local composers, this time by two veteran composers, Shimon Cohen and Menahem Tzur.
“This year, Tzur is celebrating his 70th birthday, so for this occasion his concertino for a quartet of saxophones and orchestra will be performed. I will be conducting the evening, and I am really curious to hear how this unusual combination will sound!”
For the full program, visit www.isorchestra.co.il