Chopin winners join Israel Camerata Jerusalem for Polish brilliance

Serving as a musical bridge between Poland and Israel, these performances are the result of the excellent relationship between the Camerata and the Ludwig van Beethoven Association.

AWARD-WINNING Polish pianist Szymon Nehring. (photo credit: Yigal Meiron)
AWARD-WINNING Polish pianist Szymon Nehring.
(photo credit: Yigal Meiron)

Music lovers can expect a world-class concerts weekend next Saturday as the Israel Camerata Jerusalem joins three award-winning pianists in a celebration of Chopin, Penderecki and Mozart under the baton of conductor Avner Biron.

Held in Zichron Ya’acov, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, The Winners – Rubinstein meets Chopin brings three young musical talents to a single stage. They are Polish pianist Szymon Nehring, Canadian pianist Bruce (Xiaoyu) Liu and Japanese pianist Kyohei Sorita. Nehring, 26 years old, won the gold medal during the 2017 Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv, becoming the first Pole to do so. He will perform alongside winners of the 2021 18th Chopin Piano Competition: Liu, 24 years old, who won first place for his performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No 1 in E-Minor, and Sorita, 27 years old, who won second place ex aequo (equally placed) with Italian pianist Alexander Gadiev at the Warsaw-held competition.

Under conductor Biron, 73, Nehring will play Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 20, K. 466 in all three shows. Liu will perform Chopin’s Piano Concerto no.1, op. 11 in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and Sorita will perform it during the Zichron Ya’acov concert. The program also includes the Chaconne from Penderecki’s Polish Requiem and Concerto Romanesc by Ligeti.

Serving as a musical bridge between Poland and Israel, these performances are the result of the excellent relationship between the Ludwig van Beethoven Association in Poland – led by Penderecki’s widow Elzbieta Penderecka – and the Camerata.

“On the artistic level, good things are happening between Poland and Israel,” Biron told The Jerusalem Post, noting that the Polish embassy in Israel greatly helped these concerts to take place.

Flag of Poland, variant polish coat of arms. (credit: OLEK REMESZ/ WIKEPEDIA COMMONS)Flag of Poland, variant polish coat of arms. (credit: OLEK REMESZ/ WIKEPEDIA COMMONS)

Chopin’s music was taken to the cosmos on the space shuttle Endeavour and inspired a same-named brand vodka. The Jewish-Arab musical youth orchestra offered an Arabic-music adaptation of works by the Polish genius in 2003 and a rock-jazz-adaptation of Chopin’s works was performed in the shadow of the pyramids by, among others, Polish pianist Janusz Olejniczak in 2010. Why does his genius still speak to us today?

“I think his music is easy to listen to,” Biron offered, “it is extremely communicative and has a sort of sentimentality everyone can connect with.” He noted the music is also extremely attractive to performers as “the same musical phrase can be understood in an infinite number of new ways.” Biron said in his experience there is greater potential to freely interpret Chopin than, say, Bach or Mozart.

The ears of music aficionados will no doubt perk up when they learn that Liu is currently studying under Canadian-Vietnamese pianist Dang Thai Son, who won first place in the 1980 Chopin Piano Competition. The Israeli audience will not only be able to enjoy this bright young talent, but also observe the influence of the decades-rich experience of his mentor, who is one of the most highly regarded Chopin interpreters today.

As a conductor, Biron explains, he needs to come to the rehearsal with a better grasp of the work being performed than all the musicians in the room combined. Dispelling a misconception that the conductor tells the orchestra what to do with the baton, like a traffic cop, he points out that “I never tell anyone what to do, the conductor comes with a concept, the musician can accept it or not.”

“Music is not a museum,” he offered, “it must be brought to life again and again, each and every moment.”

The Winners - Rubinstein meets Chopin series of concerts will be held on Saturday, November 13 at 8 p.m. in the Elma Arts Center at Zichron Ya’acov, on Sunday, November 14 at 8 p.m. at the Tel Aviv Opera House and on Monday, November 15 at 8 p.m. at the Henry Crown Hall of the Jerusalem Theatre. The last concert will also be aired on radio on Kan The Voice of Music (Kol Hamusika) and the Polish Radio. Seats are available at NIS 120 per ticket in Zichron Yaakov, NIS 155 per ticket in Tel Aviv and NIS 185 per ticket in Jerusalem. To purchase tickets please call (02) 502-0503 or visit www.jcamerata.com/en/concerts/2021-2022/2031