Presenting the Israel Festival

One of the more unusual programs will be a performance of Verdi’s Requiem, as it was played in the Theresienstadt ghetto.

dont reuse 521 (photo credit: Bengt Wanselius)
dont reuse 521
(photo credit: Bengt Wanselius)
The 51st Israel Festival program, which will run from May 23 to June 14, was announced earlier this week. The program will feature theater, music, dance and multimedia events. This year the festival will make use of more venues throughout the city than in former years, and instead of the classical repertory theater usually on offer, there will be an emphasis on multidisciplinary events that combine theater, dance and music among others. As it does every year, the festival promotes special ties with particular countries: this year Japan, in the framework of the celebration of 60 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries, and the Czech Republic, in addition to several events sponsored by France, the UK and China. The Israel Festival is a non-profit organization sponsored by the Culture and Tourism ministries, the Jerusalem Municipality and Mifal Hapayis. It also produces a special Children’s Festival, which takes place at the Mediatheque Museum in Holon. Some of the main festival’s events will also be performed in Modi’in.
The Israel Festival will kick off in Jerusalem with a large outdoor event at Safra Square, celebrating the 80th anniversary of the late Jerusalem-born actor and singer Yossi Banai’s birth.
The dance part of the festival will feature a premiere of the Japanese choreography and dance company Saburo Tashigvara’s program of sight and music. Another Japanese performing group, the Yamato Group, winners of the Spirit of the Fringe prize at the Edinburgh Festival last year, will perform at sunset at the Mount Scopus Amphitheater, featuring a grand program of drums and movement. A tango evening with the Tango del Sor ensemble from Argentina and an evening of Chinese theater and dance including aspects of martial arts and a program performed by two Israeli dancers (Roi Assaf and Hadar Yunger) in a co-production with the Czech company Dot504, will also take place.
Also from the Czech Republic, the Forman Brothers (sons of writer Milos Forman and considered to be one of the best alternative theater companies in the world today) will perform a play entitled Obludarium inside a circus tent.
One of the highlights of the festival and of the collaboration between the Czech Republic and the Israel Festival management will be a special performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem, as it was performed in the Theresienstadt ghetto. The “Defiant Requiem,” performed in remembrance of the destiny of the Czech Jews will feature the Czech Kuhn Choir and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra directed by Murry Sidlin, who ran the same project a few years ago in the US.
Classical music has a long tradition in the Israel Festival – which, in fact, began as a music festival before it became a multidisciplinary one. This year there will be an emphasis on a capella by the Kuhn Choir, which will present a program of Czech composers. Also being performed are Franz Lizst’s oratorio Christus, by the Romanian Cluz Choir and the JSO, a marathon of Brahms works presented by the festival’s consultant for classical music, maestro Gil Shohat, and the traditional three weekends of Bach works at the Targ Music Center in Ein Kerem.
As always, the festival will host many events free of charge. Each evening offers jazz performances in the Jerusalem Theater’s main foyer and a special evening featuring Czech jazz saxophonist Jaroslav Jakubovic. An evening of piyutim (liturgical songs) will close this part at the David Tower Museum, presenting jazz, blues and traditional chants. The complete list of free events will be published in the coming weeks.