A keynote year

Tel-Hai International Piano Master Classes turns 25.

Piano class (photo credit: PR)
Piano class
(photo credit: PR)
The Tel-Hai International Piano Master Classes takes place from July 30 to August 17 in Sde Boker in the South of Israel. This year the course, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, is hosting 74 students from Israel and abroad, who will hone their skills under the guidance of experienced pianists/teachers from Israel and Europe. The program features individual lessons, open master classes and concerts, as well as the Concerto Competition in memory of Yasha Bistrizky, the founder of the International Piano Competition.
The course in dedicated to the memory of Marina Bondarenko who, together with her colleagues Emanuel Krasovsky and Victor Derevianko, founded the master course.
Pianist and educator Tomer Lev, head and co-founder of the Buchman–Mehta Music School, has been an active Tel-Hai faculty member for the past 10 years. He says, “This was far from simple, to say the least, but Marina, with her utmost dedication and indomitable energy, managed to overcome the obstacles.
Five years ago, already very ill, she passed her managerial duties over to Sarah Lahat, who runs the course, donates generously and encourages others to donate as well. I am talking about these practical aspects because they are so important. Nothing is simple here (just think of bringing 70 pianos to the southern kibbutz!).
Despite the fact that there are many international master classes in the world, Tel-Hai is in high demand, with quite a few of the participants and alumni becoming successful pianists and prize winners. Our students are really the crème de la crème from all over the world – from Australia, the Far East, the US and Latin America, you name it.”
The course, which originally took place in the Galilee, as its name suggests, moved to the Negev in 2006.
“That summer, the Second Lebanon War took place, and the relocation was first seen as a temporary measure. But the organizers were hypnotized by the serene and inspiring beauty of the desert – and stayed,” says Lev.
He explains, “The idea of any master class is to isolate a student from the allure of the big city and immerse him/her in an intensive multifaceted music experience for some three weeks. This is the routine of the course: individual lessons with a teacher (not one with whom they study during the year) every second morning; a master class, which they attend – or participate in – every afternoon; and a concert every night.
Also, any student may ask for a lesson with any teacher. There are also workshops for art songs – lieder; chamber music; piano duos. On the whole, this is like a blender, which processes various aspects of music materials a student is offered. Then, during the year, the student internalizes this new knowledge.”
Lev goes on, “But, of course, the proof is in the pudding – that is, in the faculty. It is a mixture of a group of teachers who return again and again to Tel-Hai, as well as new names – our guest pedagogues.”
Among the faculty members are veteran Russian pianist and pedagogue Dmitry Bashkirov; Israeli professors Emanuel Krasovsky and Victor Derevianko; Israeli pianist Alon Goldstein; and piano duo Tami Kazanawa and Yuval Admoni.
The top students are awarded various prizes in memory of Marina Bondarenko, Pnina Salzman and others.
All activities of the Tel-Hai course are open to the public free of charge, with the exception of the closing concert.
The gala closing concert will take place on August 17 at 8:30 p.m. at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
For tickets: 050-906-6336 or info@ masterclasses.org.il