Steeped in culture

The Jerusalem Arts Festival is a week-long panoply of entertainment and excitement.

Introducing Jerusalem to Jerusalemites may be something of a strange concept, but that is one of the objectives Ofer Maliakh has set for the forthcoming ninth annual Jerusalem Arts Festival, which takes place between March 8 and 14 under the auspices of the Jerusalem Municipality’s Culture and Arts Department. As usual, the week-long festival is jam-packed with an eclectic range of staged cultural and hands-on events that span theater, dance and several genres of music, as well as guided walks in several parts of the capital. There will also be a generous offering of free shows in the lobby and on the plaza of the Jerusalem Theater.
The festival kicks off with a production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the YMCA. The opera will be performed by top students from the Vocal Department of the Rubin Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem, an instrumental ensemble from the academy’s chamber orchestra and the choir of the adjacent Academy High School. The opera’s basic storyline is about the spiritual voyage of Prince Tamino, his beloved Pamina and his servant Papageno. The three undergo a series of tests to prove themselves worthy of acceptance to the Freemasons, an order that symbolizes freedom, brotherhood and equality among all people. While mostly sticking to the original text, director Moti Auverbuch says there are some innovative elements in the production as well.
Elsewhere in the festival program are a couple of shows that offer value beyond pure entertainment. The Portrait (March 10, Khan Theater), for example, features two actors from the MAMI theater company, which is staffed by former drug addicts. The play portrays the detached world of addicts in a highly dramatic and direct format. Another show involving amateur actors is the production of Max Frisch’s Andorra (March 10, The Lab), which will be performed by actors from the Ramot Community Administration.
There is a wide range of musical entertainment on offer during the week-long festival, including a gala cantorial event in aid of the OneFamily Fund, which cares for victims of terrorism in Israel and their families. The concert features a star-studded lineup, including cantors Yitzhak Meir Helfgot, Simon Cohen and Colin Shahat, the Ramatayim Men’s Choir and Raymond Goldstein with the Kol Rina Quartet. There will also be a special appearance by the OneFamily Choir ensemble of bereaved fathers. Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Yitzhak Herzog will be on hand to open the proceedings at the Gerard Behar Center on March 11.
The day before, the Singing Opposite the Walls concert at Saint Vincent de Paul Church in Mamilla will feature the Jerusalem Oratorio Choir in a program of works by a range of composers including Haydn, Mozart, Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin.
Dance fans will also have plenty to enjoy, starting with the March 9 performance of Dancing and Remembering, which features the Hora Jerusalem ensemble, the Hora Jerusalem orchestra and guest artists. The show is a tribute to the late Bracha Dudai, who founded the Hora Efrochim dance ensemble and contributed much to the popularity of the dance form in Jerusalem.
One of the special features of the Jerusalem Arts Festival over the years has been the concertours, which combine music with walking tours that pertain to the musical theme. This year’s program, for example, includes the March 11 Passion and Desire for Jerusalem concertour with an evening walking tour that highlights the passion of different nations for Jerusalem – English, Scottish, German and French – combined with a concert at St. Andrews Scottish Church. The 13-member A Capella Renaissance Choir will perform Renaissance music in Italian, English and German in period costume.
The free festival slots include the Taste of Art events, which willtake place in the lobby of the Jerusalem Theater daily from 7:30 8:30 p.m. with, for example, the Gam V Gam – Fringe and StreetTheater, The Dixieland Ensemble and The Sadna Big Band. Night owls canalso enjoy the later free shows, which start nightly at 10:45 and endat 12:30 a.m. These include the Let’s Dance folk dance show on March 9;an ensemble led by flutist Matan Klein performing pieces from the NaomiShemer songbook (March 11); and Greek-seasoned rock music on March 14starring guitarist and bouzouki player Haim Romano.
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