Sounds like the Galilee

The Voice of Music Festival comes back to Kfar Blum

HAIM PERMONT’s work Galil (galilee) will premier at the Kl Hamosica festival (photo credit: MIRI SHAMIR)
HAIM PERMONT’s work Galil (galilee) will premier at the Kl Hamosica festival
(photo credit: MIRI SHAMIR)
The Voice of Music (Kol Hamusica) Festival is back at Kfar Blum. The 34th edition of the eagerly anticipated annual classical music event will take place on the northern kibbutz from July 7-14, with a whole host of topnotch performers, all manner of ensembles, and a repertoire stretch that takes in works by the likes of Elgar, Dvorak, Richard Strauss, Bach, Beethoven and Erich Korngold.
While the latter’s oeuvre is represented by a relatively contemporary work – the Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in C-sharp major, Op. 17, written in 1926 – the festival concert agenda comes bang up to date with the premiere of a work by Haim Permont, Galil (Galilee), specially commissioned for the occasion by Voice of Music artistic director, cellist Zvi Plesser.
As Permont notes, the work is well-named, whichever way you look at it.
“The work was commissioned by the Upper Galilee Choir which is celebrating its 40th anniversary. So I wrote a composition for choir and orchestra,” he said.
The latter role will be filled, at the festival, by the Israel Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of Ron Zarhi.
“There will also be a female singer,” Permont adds. “We decided that the texts would be about the Galilee and, as far as possible, would be written by residents of the Galilee.”
Permont culled a wide range of written works for Galil, taking in poetry by David Shimoni, Ephraim Talmi, David (Dudu) Palma and Amnon Shamoush. While Shimoni and Talmi are long gone, Palma and Shamoush are still very much with us, and both have a strong connection with the titular region of northern Israel.
68-year-old Palma hails from Kibbutz Ashdot Meuchad, near the Kinneret, and now lives at Kibbutz Kfar Hanassi while Shamoush is just about as local as you can get. The Syrian-born poet was around to help found Kibbutz Ma’ayan Baruch, 71 years ago, and is closing in on his 90th birthday.
All four scribes, Galileans and otherwise, were drawn to the Galilee in a professional and creative sense.
“In the end, we selected poems by three generations of poets who wrote about the Galilee,” Permont explains. “The first generation is the generation of David Shimoni and Ephraim Talmi, from our grandparents’ time.”
Although a long time resident of Tel Aviv, the 68-year-old Permont who was born in Vilna, Lithuania and grew up on Kibbutz Kfar Giladi in the Upper Galilee, admits to having more than a purely professional interest in featuring Shamoush’s work in Galil.
“He taught Literature in my school. I have a strong feeling for him. I am a great admirer of his. He wrote a poem called “Annoo VeAnee” (Us and Me), which talks about his experiences when he served in the Palmach in the Upper Galilee, and also about his feelings after the War [of Independence]. He writes about going to mass graves, and attending memorials, and how the words have vanished, and how we were once ‘us’ and now there’s only ‘me’ – all the others were either killed or died of natural causes.”
Palma, as the representative of the third generation, provided textual inspiration for Galil with lines taken from a poem called “Kichlot Hazikaron” (The End of Memory). Permont feels it is poignant element of the musical work.
“The poem references the history of the Upper Galilee, from the Crusader Era and [12th century sultan] Sallah a-Din and right up to the time of the katyusha rocket attacks.”
Permont says he was looking for a slightly left field lyrical anchor. “The poems I went for aren’t necessary of the usual pastoral type, about flowers, butterflies and birds. They are about the events and the people who live in the Galilee.”
Permont also has the requisite personal backdrop for envisaging his scores in their orchestrated form.
“I grew up with classical music, and I played the violin. I played all the works I was capable of.” There were other sonic influences around. “I grew up on kibbutz, with Israel folk music and all the songs of the working pioneer sector. That’s part of my DNA.”
At some stage the western world weighed into the youngster’s evolving psyche. “In the Sixties, between the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War, loads of volunteers came to the kibbutz from all over the world,” Permont recalls. “There was English and American pop and rock, but also French and Italian pop. I was exposed to just about any kind of music going.”
That multifarious education stood Permont in good stead a few years later when he got himself a job at the Khan Theater in Jerusalem, as a sort of jack-ofall- trades.
“I wrote the music for a handful of movies, but I did a lot more in theater. When I was a student I worked with the Khan for 4 years. I worked with all the big stars – Ilan Ronen was then a director, and there was [European Film Award recipient] Sasson Gabai and Aliza Rosen. My job was to play the piano, and any instrument they asked me to, and even to get on the stage and to say whatever they told me to, whatever rubbish. It was a good experience. I enjoyed every moment of it,” Permont laughs.
Almost half a century on Permont still exudes a fair helping of joie de vivre, which should come across in the rendition Galil up north too.
Elsewhere in the Voice of Music lineup there is plenty to keep patrons of all ages engaged, including a couple of family slots courtesy of bassist Gilad Ephrat and the Contemporary Quartet, who will perform works for junior listeners as part of the Strings across the World show. Meanwhile, the Serenade Lemonade concert features works by Gershwin and Elgar, and the Aya Pluto musical-theatrical offering is based on the eponymous Leah Goldberg tome.
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