Jerusalem hosts eighth annual Pianos Festival for free, completely online

Thursday saw the debut of a new project by composer Tom Cohen, featuring guests Dudu Tassa and pianist Omri Mor, which blends the works of Beethoven with classical Andalusian music.

The Jerusalem Philharmonic Orchestra plays at the 2019 Pianos Festival. (photo credit: MEIR SHALEV)
The Jerusalem Philharmonic Orchestra plays at the 2019 Pianos Festival.
(photo credit: MEIR SHALEV)
Facing uncertainty due to Israel's coronavirus crisis (of which, Jerusalem has been the hardest hit city), the Jerusalem Theater's eighth annual Pianos Festival decided to hold the festival completely online, broadcasting each performance live on both Youtube and Facebook.
This year's festival, which began on Wednesday and will end on Saturday evening, is dedicated to Ludwig van Beethoven, marking 250 years since the famed composer's birth.
Throughout the days of the festival, the theater's website hosts a live studio, where they interview the artists, and explain and interpret the planning of each show, before and after it takes place.
In addition, between the performances, special concerts will be given by the German Klenke-Quartett, which were specially recorded for the festival, courtesy of Israel's Goethe Institute.
While not all of the performances were only available to watch after the live stream, three of the festival's performances have stayed online for everyone to enjoy.
On Thursday, viewers at home saw the debut of a new project by composer Tom Cohen, featuring guests Dudu Tassa and pianist Omri Mor, which seeks to blend the works of Beethoven with classical Andalusian works from Egypt and Babylon.

On Friday, Pianist Orit Wolf hosted violinist Hagai Shaham, cellist Hillel Tzuri and pianist Shir Zemel, presenting an assortment of Beethoven's works which were written and dedicated to his close friend, Duke Rudolph.

The Shabbat reception, a tradition of the festival, chose this year to show how iconic Israeli songwriter Naomi Shemer's classic songs correspond with Beethoven's works. Two Israeli opera singers joined pianist and creator Dudi Zeva to bring the audience a series of well-known and beloved Hebrew songs, interspersing them with pieces by Beethoven.

On Saturday night, Pianist Yishai Sha'er will present two new arrangements of Beethoven's sonatas – Piano Sonata No. 17 in B minor, Op. 31 No. 2, "The Storm," and Piano Sonata No. 26 in B flat major, Opus 81a, "The Farewell" (Les Adieux) – along with violinist Domitro Pochitri and cellist Emanuele Sylvesteri. 
"The Storm" was composed as Beethoven was descending into deafness, while "The Farewell" was written in 1809-1810 during the siege and conquering of the city of Vienna by Napoleon's armies, when the composer parted from his good friend who was forced to flee the city.
On Saturday night's closing concert of the festival, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra returns to the stage, conducted by the Israeli conductor and composer Ziv Kozukaro. 
The main focus of the closing concert will be Beethoven's fifth piano concerto, the "Emperor", played by Tomer Lev, one of the most important pianists and pedagogues in Israel today.