Beautiful Music

Felicja Blumental Chamber Music Festival just days away

TAL SAMNON (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
This year’s 21st Felicja Blumental International Music Festival will takes place from March 26-30. The beautiful music event, which was founded by soprano Annette Celine to commemorate her mother – prominent pianist Felicja Blumental – and now serves as tribute to Celine herself, who died almost two years ago, leaving an indelible imprint on the local music life. 
The music program is variegated, and features the best international and local artists and ensembles. The festival, which over the years has become an indelible part of the country’s cultural life, this year collaborates not only with local musical bodies, but also with important music events, such as the Epos Film Festival and the Bach in Jerusalem Festival of the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra. The concerts will take place at Tel Aviv Museum of Art and at the Zucker Auditorium, Heichal HaTarbut.
Obviously reflecting its founder’s taste, the program includes several Baroque music performances. Israeli cellist Ira Givol comes home from Switzerland with his ensemble to present Bach’s Cello Suites orchestrated and arranged to different Baroque genres and ensembles, by Givol himself. In another program, the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra presents a Bach program starring Holland-based Israeli soprano Keren Motzeri and Swiss trumpeter Giuseppe Frau. More Baroque music comes from the Phoenix Ensemble, which performs on 18th-century musical instruments.
Among other programs are piano recital by the second-prize winner of the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, Daniele Ciobanu of Romania; The Caesar of Atlantis – the opera by Victor Ullmann, who perished in Holocaust; and an entire day dedicated to Lithuanian music culture, with a concert of the world-renowned Israeli jazz pianist Anat Fort, who celebrates the 20th anniversary of her trio; and much more. 
But even against this variegated background, DEGA, a “life story on him who’ll turn into her via sounds, lyrics and music,” defines the piece and its author, pianist Tal-Haim Samnon. Samnon, who studied piano from the age of six, achieving his artist’s diploma at Indiana University, Bloomington, and now appears at prestigious venues in Israel and abroad, speaks about his piece with a touch of surprise. 
“It all started when I was studying for my second academic degree in Bloomington, Indiana,” recollects the musician on the eve of the festival. “One freezing winter day, I was composing a piece for piano which started with the notes re-mi-sol-la [D-E-G-A, in other words]. It was a gift for someone who asked me to write a music for her birthday. 
“I planned to play with it later in the Bach way – changing its rhythm, showings its mirror reflection and more. Later, I looked out of the window and saw the snow and the trees and asked myself how a tree would sing if it could. And I wrote three songs – which I never did before.” 
He continued the piece only two years later, on his return in Israel. “I suddenly found myself waking up in the morning and composing songs for maybe 10 hours a day like a possessed man. This was how I wrote 13 more songs. Then I realized that the songs are connected one to another and together they emerge as a complete life story.” 
Samnon, who has been an obsessive reader from his childhood, also wrote lyrics to his songs. “The literary aspect has always been important for me. When I play this or that piece, I always write about it, its lyric story, so to speak. Each song in DEGA begins in a masculine form, yet in the middle it turns into a feminine. This is a story of a little boy who loves the trees and the sea, and who gradually realizes that there is some ‘her’ inside of him. And that he actually is not ‘him,’ but rather ‘her.’ 
Samnon confesses that he has never really learned composition in an orderly manner, but mostly from composers. “From Bach, Mozart and Beethoven one can learn a lot of how music is built,” he says.  
DEGA finally emerged as a book. “It includes the score and the lyrics and is beautifully illustrated by an artist from Venezuela.”
The book will be launched at the festival concert, on March 29th at Zucker Auditorium in Tel Aviv. Tal-Haim Samnon will be at the piano, with Michal Tikotsky on flute, Shani Shachar on oboe, Keren Goldenzweig on clarinet, Rotem Nir on bassoon, Avital Tsaig on viola, Linor Katz on cello; along with vocalists Keren Hadar, Einat Aronstein and Doron Ben-Ami.
For details or tickets, call 03-620-1185 or visit