High aspirations

The annual Abu Ghosh Music Festival is under way.

Alla Vassilevitsky (photo credit: PR)
Alla Vassilevitsky
(photo credit: PR)
This year, the rich program of the Abu Ghosh Music Festival includes nine concerts that will satisfy audiences of varied tastes. It features Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas, as well as the Israeli debut of the renowned Ukrainian choir Oreya, performing two programs that range from Ukrainian and Moravian folk songs to Bach, Rachmaninov, Poulenc and Rimsky-Korsakov.
The Hallelujah concert is a tribute to Leonard Cohen, featuring Hadas Faran-Asia.
And a roster of Israeli vocalists of the new generation, such as Daniela Skorka, Alon Harari and Guy Pelc, will perform with the Israeli Vocal Ensemble and the Barocada Collective Ensemble under the baton of Yuval Ben-Ozer in a program of pieces by Mozart, Handel and Mendelssohn.
The music fest also hosts the Avishai Cohen Trio, in which the renowned double bass player, composer and singer performs a selection of his works with pianist Omri Mor and percussionist Itamar Duary.
Another participant in this year’s festival is Alla Vassilevitsky. Born and raised in Kamchatka, Russia, the soprano always knew she would be involved in music.
“I come from a music-loving family. My mother had wanted to be a musician, so she probably put her aspirations in her daughter,” says Vassilevitsky, who started playing piano at the age of six.
She studied piano at the local music school and participated in regional music competitions, but she failed the music college entry exams.
“I overplayed my hand and, as a result, I played badly. My marks were the lowest of all the students, and I simply could not understand how could that be. But it was suggested that I study choir conducting instead, and that is what I did. We also had vocal classes, and by the end of the course I knew that was what I wanted to do in my life – to be a singer. They say that my greatgrandmother was a natural-born singer, so I probably got this musical gift from her,” she says.
Vassillevitsky continued her studies at the Choral Art Academy of Moscow.
“In that big city, in order to advance one needs connections, but my teacher had none. ‘What I can do is place you in an opera choir,’ she suggested. But that was not what I wanted. By that time, I had already participated in international music competitions. To make a long story short, I moved to Israel, and that is where my music career started,” she says.
“I am a lucky person,” says the young soprano. “I encounter good people, who are eager to help me. Or maybe I just see the good in people. My life in Israeli started in the small city of Arad. In order not to just stay at home, I joined a local amateur vocal ensemble. After one of the concerts, a woman approached me and said she wanted to help me because she liked my voice. It was the wife of Israeli author Amos Oz. She taught me Hebrew and later told me about the annual International Opera Workshop in Jaffa,” she recounts.
Vassilevitsky applied for the course and was accepted. There she met Israeli singer Larissa Tetueva, who introduced her to the Israeli Opera Young Artists Studio.
“That is how I became an Israeli Opera soloist,” she says. “Usually the students perform in minor productions or perform minor roles, but I was lucky to begin my Israeli career in Dame Pique in the role of Prilepa.
Then other roles followed – in Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and Clemenza di Tito and others, as well as performing in concerts.”
On Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at the Kiryat Ye’arim Church, Vassilevitsky will take part in the performance of Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor, along with soprano Keren Hadar, alto Sigal Haviv, tenor Joseph Aridan, bass Alexey Kanonikov, the Ramat Gan Chamber Choir conducted by Hannah Tzur and musicians from The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Also on the program is Bach’s Concerto for Oboe and Violin.
The Abu Ghosh Music Festival takes place from June 10 to 12.