At this time, 50 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany is being celebrated widely. Due to the initiative of renowned German pianist and conductor Justus Franz, the Sinfonietta Beersheba (of which he is the music director) joins forces with the Philharmonic of Nations. On October 15 the joint orchestra performed in Berlin in the building of the Bundestag, the German parliament. It was the first time that an Israeli orchestra performed in that locale. From Berlin, the joint orchestra continued to other German cities.Between October 23 and 27, the orchestra will perform in Israel. The program features Beethoven’s Egmont Overture ; Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 (with Franz leading the orchestra from the keyboard); Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 ; The Ramon Crater by young Berlin-based Israeli composer Gilad Hochman; and a piece by young German composer Johannes Motschmann.Hochman was born in Israel in 1982. His mother emigrated from France, while his father came from Russia. Both parents supported his love of music. Hochman started studying piano at the age of six. In 2007 he graduated with honors from the Buchman-Mehta School of Music at Tel Aviv University. Hochman is counted among Israel’s most talented and successful young composers.Among his many achievements and honors, at the age of 24 he became the youngest composer to be awarded the prestigious Israeli Prime Minister Award (2007) for his artistic work. At 22 he was the youngest to be appointed composer in residence of the Ra’anana Symphonette. Today, his music is performed throughout the world by major ensembles. “In considering where to continue my music studies, I was deliberating between the US and Germany,” says Hochman in a phone interview from his Berlin home. “Coming to Berlin, I immediately felt that this was the place for me for many reasons. Germany (together with Austria) is the cradle of a major part of Western music. This is also where Nazism flourished, and Nazism is a phenomenon that I want to study. Also, Berlin is the place of many opportunities for musicians.”For Hochman, “Nazism is a phenomenon that I want to study” are not empty words. Together with German photographer Christian Herrnbeck, he has undertaken a project that includes music and photographs. Hochman explains that “Niemands Orte” (nobody’s places) is a documentary-artistic interdisciplinary exhibition project that focuses on the National Socialist camp system. “It combines visual arts based on still photos by Herrnbeck with the music I composed. The project is dedicated to the millions of people who were humiliated, tortured, traumatized and murdered by the NS criminals and their helpers. The exhibition will be presented internationally,” he says. Speaking about The Ramon Crater , his new composition that is being premiered in the current program, Hochman says, “This is a piece which by no means pretends to represent Israeli culture in general. First of all, that is simply impossible. Second, while preparing the program, my German counterpart Johannes Motschmann and I had a very interesting dialogue. In our new pieces, we decided to relate to previous compositions. So Johannes quotes my Nedudim , while I relate to his harmonic ideas. It is not by chance that my new piece is called The Ramon Crater. The land of Israel, its landscapes, are of the utmost importance to me,” says the composer, who divides his time between Germany and his native land. The concerts take place on October 23 at 4 p.m. at TAPAC in Tel Aviv, (03) 692-7777; October 24 at 8:30 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center in Beersheba, (08) 626-6422; October 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Heichal Hatarbut in Lod; and October 27 at 8:30 p.m. at the Jerusalem Theatre, *6226.