Discovering today’s sounds: Israel Contemporary Players Music Ensemble

The ICP “Discoveries Series,” now in its 29th season of presenting music written in our time, is offering concerts in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on March 7 and 8.

Marcus Weiss  (photo credit: HEILE LISS)
Marcus Weiss
(photo credit: HEILE LISS)
‘Art is a reflection of its own time,” said Daniel Yuhas, founder and director of the Israel Contemporary Players (ICP). “Since times are changing very rapidly, so are our lives and so is our music.”
The ICP “Discoveries Series,” now in its 29th season of presenting music written in our time, is offering concerts in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on March 7 and 8.
“Our ensemble performs each program in the Discoveries Series twice: once at the Jerusalem Music Center and at the Tel Aviv Museum,” Yuhas told The Jerusalem Post. “In addition, ICP concerts are broadcast live on Voice of Music radio. Our goal is to show the audience what is going on in music, and keep them informed of new developments. The ICP programs are eclectic, premiering what is new while building a repertoire of contemporary music of the 20th and 21st centuries. It is an exciting challenge, and our audiences are enthusiastic. Each season, we have grown both nationally and internationally.”
Yuhas is a respected composer, musician and teacher of composition and counterpoint at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music at Tel Aviv University, and founder and director of Hateiva - The Center for Electronic Music in Tel Aviv. His music has been performed by many of the world’s prestigious ensembles, and garnered an impressive list of prizes and awards.
“From our start in 1991 until today, contemporary music has undergone significant changes.”
Yuhas reflects that there is a great change in the basic perception of sound. “Young composers now are exploring sound by searching for the limits of instruments and voice in order to provide another type of musical encounter.
“Our programs cover the spectrum of what is happening all over the world,” he explains. “Contemporary music requires more attention and focus from the listener. It is an experience in growth.”
 Opening the program is Colored Lines, a piece composed by Yuhas 20 years ago. “It has been performed all over the world,” says Yuhas. “One might say that it is older contemporary music. The older pieces are important because they are the foundation on which we build contemporary repertoire.”
The upcoming ICP concert will bring some of the top international contemporary artists to Israel’s stage. Daniel Kawka (pronounced “Kafka”) from Paris is guest conductor.
KAWKA IS musical director of the Ose Orchestra and the Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain, one of the world’s leading contemporary ensembles, and principal guest conductor of ORT Orchestra of Firenze and the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic.
His wide conducting repertoire embraces opera performances from Mozart to Wagner, staged in Europe’s most important venues. He says Maurice Ravel, Richard Wagner and Pierre Boulez are the trilogy of composers whose styles formed his musical direction. He notes that a young Boulez, 40 years ago, established Paris as one of the hubs of contemporary music.
“This was a generation of young composers who were open to inspiration, digitally oriented, creative in spirit,” Kawka told the Post from his home in Paris.
Kawka is now reviewing new music for performance at approaching music festivals. “I now have 70 scores written by composers in their 20s and 30s on my desk. It is a joy and I am impressed by their creative activity.”
He believes that his role as a conductor is also expanding. “Contemporary music, because of its complexity, needs a conductor to give all the information. Whereas in traditional repertoire many times an orchestra needs a conductor really to provide the expressive colors.”
He also notes that young composers are making a bridge between purely electronic music and traditional instruments. He sees this as a direction toward freedom, resulting in a synthesis between contemporary music and a mix of cultural influences.
Performing with the ICP will be Marcus Weiss, a top solo saxophone player from Switzerland who performs with many European orchestras and his own ensembles: Trio Accanto and Quatuor Xasax in Paris. He is also an esteemed teacher and composer who is happy to have contemporary composers writing for his instrument.
Weiss will join in a performance of Nadir Vasena’s Von Den Rosen for saxophone, accordion (Stefanie Mirwald) and percussion, (Oded Geizhals), and also perform his own composition Tamangur, an improvisation for baritone saxophone solo.
“I see contemporary music moving into a new paradigm,” Weiss told the Post. “It does so not through complexity, but through new directions in performance, through diversity, multi-media, tape, theater and exploration of the inner core of the instrument. Young composers live in a world with many options. It is definitely an exciting time.”
Performances take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 7 at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (phone: 03-607-7070); and Sunday, March 8, at the Jerusalem Music Center (02-623-4347).