Ra’anana Symphonette Orchestra: An evening of the unexpected - review

The concert opened with the premiere of the composition Contact, composed by Keren Kagarlitsky, who is also the associate music director of the RSO.

 THE RA’ANANA Symphonette Orchestra. (photo credit: Ra’anana Symphonette)
THE RA’ANANA Symphonette Orchestra.
(photo credit: Ra’anana Symphonette)


Beit Yad Labanim

October 20

The Ra’anana Symphonette Orchestra (RSO) opened its 30th season with an evening of the unexpected. The first was a complete change in program, soloist and conductor. This happens in the world of concerts, but was further complicated by a change in location, due to a problem in an alarm system in the RSO’s home auditorium.

Although a rainy evening was predicted, and different seats had to be arranged in Ra’anana’s Beit Yad Labanim auditorium, the audience showed up in good numbers. From this point, the “newness” translated into a successful evening. 

The concert opened with the premiere of the composition Contact, composed by Keren Kagarlitsky, who is also the associate music director of the RSO. She is an Israeli who holds the position of resident conductor for the Wiener Volksoper, and has won prestigious awards and critical acclaim in concert halls throughout Europe and the West. 


A musical exercise in democracy

Contact is a concerto for two soloists, a dancer and a drummer. One could call it a musical exercise in “democracy.” In the words of the conductor/composer Kagarlitsky, “It focuses on the relationship between dance and drumming and between dance and conducting.” 

The movements of Rotem Weissman, Israeli dancer and choreographer par excellence, went from being a floppy, rag doll contortionist to a stylized leader, as the orchestra and percussionist followed precisely.

Likewise, Gal Hochberg, accomplished drummer and sought-after musician in the world of dance and electronic music, was accompanist to the dancer as well as being leader of her actions. Moreover, there were exciting sections when he and his drum set were the stars of the moment. 

The piece Contact follows the form of concerto. The orchestra not only accompanied the soloists with rhythmic and sharp episodes, but at times became the soloist as well. All parts intertwined into a captivating performance, and the audience was most appreciative.

Violin Concerto 1 by Sergei Prokofiev followed. Written in 1917, the turbulent year of the Russian Revolution, its music straddles two worlds: the Romantic lyricism of the 19th century and the sounds and rhythmic patterns of the 20th. It is a concerto that takes the solo violin into its uppermost reaches, and within the first moments of the performance, the musical capabilities and virtuosity of soloist Nitai Zori were clearly evidenced. 

Zori is the RSO concertmaster, whose repertoire ranges from Baroque to contemporary music. He is critically acclaimed internationally as a soloist and chamber musician, and a joy to hear. 

The third selection of the evening, Symphony No. 5 by Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky, was not as successful. Every hall has its own acoustic pluses and minuses to which an orchestra must familiarize themselves. The auditorium in Beit Yad Labanim, to which the concert was moved, presented challenges of balance and intonation the orchestra perhaps was not prepared for. However, it was exciting to hear an orchestra as fine as the RSO reset itself. 

By the fourth movement of the symphony, the RSO and Kagarlitsky surmounted the difficulties and set the momentum for a fine RSO ’22-’23 season.