Voice of Music Festival: An eclectic roll - review

Last week’s schedule spanned wide musical domains and was predominantly based on a format of multiple short pieces arranged for all kinds of ensembles

 OFRA YITZHAKI, the Voice of Music’s artistic director. (photo credit: SARIT UZIELI)
OFRA YITZHAKI, the Voice of Music’s artistic director.
(photo credit: SARIT UZIELI)

Voice of Music Festival

Kfar Blum

June 28-July 2

Ofra Yitzhaki promised us an eclectic roll at this year’s Voice of Music Festival and that’s exactly what we got. The internationally acclaimed classical pianist took over as artistic director of the veteran event, in 2021. The festival is now 37 years old and still very much alive and kicking, and quickly set about shuffling the programmatic pack.

Last week’s schedule spanned wide musical domains and was predominantly based on a format of multiple short pieces arranged for all kinds of ensembles. The main slots of each day were all entitled Reflections, with subtitles such as Hitpartzut (Outpouring) or Hatchalah (Beginning), indicating what Yitzhaki considered to be the common denominator between works of a seemingly disparate nature. Last Thursday, for example, the audience in the kibbutz Bet Ha’am auditorium heard works by JS Bach, Mendelssohn and Mozart, but also more contemporary creations by now 96-year-old Jewish Hungarian composer György Kurtág and his 20th century Israeli counterpart Mordechai Setter.

It made for interesting listening, with some works as short as three minutes. Personally, I liked the variety, and being suddenly cast into 20th century Japanese vibes, as was the case with Thursday’s earlier Manginot Halev (Tunes of the Heart) concert which started out with a Mozart serenade before seguing seamlessly into “A Bird Came Down The Walk” by Toru Takemitsu. Both were performed by Yitzhaki and violist Itamar Ringel.g.

Later on in the show, soprano Einat Aronstein teamed up with Yitzhaki for a highly emotive delivery of “Confession” by Israel Prize laureate songsmith Sasha Argov.

The broadly roaming festival itinerary also took in a delightful morning spot with seasoned oud player Wissam Joubran, who eloquently verbally and instrumentally elucidated some of the intrinsic connections between Arabic and Western music. His concert included a self-written piece called “A Canaanite Love Story,” an intriguing take on the melody of traditional Friday night song “Shalom Aleichem,” flamenco and a song popularized by now 87-year-old celebrated Lebanese songstress Fairuz, with some rock-inflected material thrown in for good measure.

 VOICE OF Music artistic director Ofra Yitzhaki (center) with some of her instrumentalists.  (credit: MICHAEL FABIA) VOICE OF Music artistic director Ofra Yitzhaki (center) with some of her instrumentalists. (credit: MICHAEL FABIA)

Other Voice of Music highlights included a typically diverse trio set, by bassoon player Gili Sharett, oboist Nir Gavrieli and clarinetist Gilad Harel, playing works by Mozart, 20th century French composer Jacques Ibert and American ragtime pioneer Scott Joplin.

It was also encouraging to see audiences with thirtysomethings and youngsters attending the concerts. Yitzhaki’s multilayered programming philosophy should help to keep the Voice of Music Festival uppermost in music lovers’ minds and hearts in the years to come.