Take a bow

The International Master Course for Violinists hosts an impressive roster of musicians.

Itzhak Rashkovsky 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Itzhak Rashkovsky 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The International Master Course for Violinists takes place at Kibbutz Eilon on July 26-August 10 amid the scenic mountains of the western Galilee.
What started out 21 years ago as a modest project to give a two-week respite to young musicians from the former USSR and their teachers so they could study in a pastoral atmosphere soon turned into a much sought-after master course, with the best students honing their skills under the guidance of prominent international and Israeli musicians and teachers.
The program features individual lessons, master classes, concerts of students and teachers, as well as special programs. It culminates with a gala concert on August 10 at TAPAC, this time in cooperation with the Suzanne Dellal Dance Center. Most of the activities are open to the public, and music lovers are welcome to spend a few days on the kibbutz or in lodging in the area and combine nature trips with musical pleasure.
“It always really hurts me to turn down applicants because if nowadays somebody wants to play violin, that person should be supported,” says the artistic director and co-founder of the course Itzhak Rashkovsky, who is a violin professor at the Royal College of Music in London.
“This year, as always, some 200 students applied, but what can we do? We have space for no more than 50. But we are planning to build more facilities in the future,” he says.
“Every year, the courses are both quite similar and different. Not only new students and new teachers come, but we always try to create special projects to widen the kids’ horizons. This year it will be a program dedicated to Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, which celebrates its centennial this year.”
But what does that have to do with the violin? “Diaghilev himself did not write a single note,” explains Rashkovsky. “He was an impresario, a motivator; he knew how to attract outstanding artists from various fields, and he inspired them. Many musical pieces that are popular today were originally commissioned by Diaghilev. We also want to show our students and the audience that music should not be alone – it is just one of the arts, and it interacts with the others.”
Every year Keshet Eilon commissions a piece to an Israeli composer, but this time a ballet piece was commissioned to the ballet music Passacaglia by Handel- Halvorsen for violin and cello, which will be performed at the Suzanne Dellal Dance Center. “By doing this, we are trying to follow in Diaghilev’s footsteps.”
The violin roster is a mixture of familiar and new names. The list is headed by Israeli Haim Taub and the distinguished guest of the course, Ida Handel, who will also give a concert on August 7 with a string ensemble under Prof.
Eduard Grach from Moscow.
Among the teachers coming to Eilon for the first time are Latica Honda Rosenberg from Germany and Stephan Barratt-Due of Norway, a third-generation scion of a musical family. Roman Simovic, a Keshet Eilon graduate, now returns as a teacher. “Roman is on the rise. He is a concert master of the London Symphony and a professor of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama,” says Rashkovsky.
And there are veteran teachers: Rashkovsky himself, who is among the most sought-after violin pedagogues in England; his wife, violinist and teacher Ani Schnarch; Shmuel Ashkenasi; and Eduard Grach to name a few. Chamber music is now being taught at Keshet Eilon, too, which brings to the western Galilee kibbutz violists Atar Arad and Lilach Levanon and cellists Oleg Kogan and Hillel Zori.
“Students and teachers play music together like equals. We will perform Krzysztof Penderecki’s Sinfonietta. I believe it is important to play the music of living composers. We will perform it in Eilon and in Tel Aviv.”
Rashkovsky adds, “We are also returning to our old tradition of “on the grass” concerts, with veteran kibbutzniks coming to listen to music. For this we are restoring the acoustic shell,” he says, For more details, visit www.keshetei.org.il/ or call (04) 985-8191/131