White through the night

Once in a while something from the less structured domain of the arts galvanizes a whole new scene.

Erwin Stache 88 (photo credit: )
Erwin Stache 88
(photo credit: )
The generally held view in this country and the world over is that it doesn't normally pay to step too far outside the safe and commercially viable environs of the musical mainstream. However, once in a while something comes along from the less structured domain of the arts that not only proves its worth, it even galvanizes a whole new scene. According to Dvir Katz, the latter is the case with regard to the annual White Night Modern Music extravaganza in Tel Aviv, which this year takes place until the wee hours of the night on July 3 at the Enav Center, with some workshops held on the morrow. "The festival started out four years ago as something fresh," says Katz, who is a member of the White Night production team and will perform in a couple of concerts himself. "Nobody knew how it would go, but it seemed there was some kind of demand for something on the avant-garde side of music here." Katz says the event sparked off a whole host of citywide festivities which have now become a tradition. "I think the Tel Aviv Municipality was impressed with the music stuff we had at White Night and they decided to run with it." Besides the exploratory musical endeavor - kicking off at 7 p.m. with Katz on flute, Yoram Lakhish on oboe and English horn and Anat Kohavi on bass clarinet - there will be events of sporting, culinary, musical, entertainment, historical and sightseeing natures happening all around the city through the night. Fifty of the city's finest examples of Bauhaus architecture will be illuminated. Special for the occasion, there will be a giant street party at the Jaffa flea market from 10 p.m. Restaurants and art galleries will be open late and a dozen singers from the Israeli Opera company will perform arias and excerpts from such perennial favorites at La Traviata, La Boheme, Porgy and Bess and West Side Story at the Opera House between midnight and 3 a.m. "It really is quite a happening," says Katz, who is naturally happy with the White Night Modern Music lineup as well. "Besides the shows inside the auditorium there will be music in the lobby and a video art show. You can pop in and out, grab a coffee, a beer or a snack and then go back. Like the music, there's a free and easy feel to the festival." The musical program is impressive. Katz and his trio are followed by British composer and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Weaver, providing the musical seasoning for a show by the Octet improvisational dance group. The opening three-slot set will close with US-born, Jerusalem-based reedman Steve Horenstein conducting a 15-member ensemble. Elsewhere, the modern, jazz and improvisational music program features some of the titans of the European scene, including: 65-year-old German master percussionist Gunter "Baby" Sommer, Danish composer, researcher and electronic, avant-garde and improvised music multi-instrumentalist Christer Irgens-Moller, the Sternschuss German-based trio, which includes Kohavi and German multimedia artist and physicist Erwin Stache whose musical apparatus includes telephones, a customized vacuum cleaner and all manner of electronic gadgetry. "Sommer is one of the most important artists on the European free music scene," says Katz. "He'll also be giving a workshop and performance at the Hasadna Conservatory in Jerusalem on June 30. It's wonderful to have him come to Israel. He is very visual in the way he plays. It is very exciting to see him on the stage." Katz is no less enthused about Irgens-Moller's impending arrival. "Christer will perform with 'Baby' and will conduct the cream of the Israeli free players in an ensemble. He has played with many of top avant-garde artists around the world, like [79-year-old US pianist] Cecil Taylor and [64-year-old British saxophonist] Evan Parker. It's an honor to have him here." It seems the Dane is also partly responsible for the emergence of White Night. "He was here 14 years ago. His visit here led to the creation of the [free jazz combo] Tel Aviv Art Ensemble, in which I also play, and that helped White Night to come about." So, at the end of the day, if you're into it, night. For more information: www.whitenightfestival.com