A haven for violinists

The program began as a dream, and today, students come from all over the world.

Ariel Horowitz performing in a master-class with Ani Schnarch (photo credit: MEIRA NAGEL)
Ariel Horowitz performing in a master-class with Ani Schnarch
(photo credit: MEIRA NAGEL)
Steps away from the border with Lebanon, if listening closely, one can hear the faint but exquisite strains of violin wafting through the lush green mountains and over the sapphire Mediterranean.
Every year a three-week international seminar called Keshet Eilon – or “The Bow of Eilon” – is held, where students attend private lessons and master classes with prominent violin masters, including Haim Taub, Ani Schnarch, Vadim Gluzman and Edward Grach.
In its 26th summer, the growth of this program is apparent – the acoustic concert hall, replete with gleaming wood and plush chairs, was once a chicken coop. The surrounding landscape is bare and breathtaking, and the neighboring Kibbutz Eilon has lovely hiking trails.
The location of Keshet Eilon, far from the hustle and bustle of city life, becomes a haven for these musicians. Though this master course is only several weeks long, the small size of the program allows every student to play a tremendous amount.
The schedule varies slightly every day for the students.
Most mornings, there are lessons or some practice times, and starting at 12 noon there is usually a master class or a concert. During the afternoon, one of the interesting outlets available for students is the archery program, which takes place in the large gymnasium. Archery, which uses the same muscle groups as playing the violin does, enhances the ability to play but provides the students with a different mental exercise.
“The diverse student body is also inspiring in terms of gaining different musical perspectives from students who study in incredible conservatories all around the world,” said Juilliard student Leerone Hakami.
The program began as a dream, and today, students come from all over the world – from the Philippines, the United States, Israel, Spain, Japan and elsewhere – brought together by the international language that is music. And even though music is an international language, everyone brings his own perspective to this conservatory, creating a unique and dynamic musical experience.
“There are tons of unique things about the program that I love,” continued Hakami, “but I think the best part is being able to have lessons with such world-renowned musicians almost every day. And even though the program is so short, we still get the opportunity to work with multiple teachers, which is so helpful as a musician to gain various perspectives and advice.”
Before dinner, there is typically another master class, which is open to the public. Sitting in on a master class with Schnarch, one of the heads of the program, was certainly an eye-opening experience.
Juilliard student Ariel Horowitz stood on stage and began her solo performance, and to my fairly untrained ears sounded flawless.
Schnarch, reminiscent of my childhood piano teacher with her lilting Russian accent and firm demeanor, got on stage after she was done, gestured for the notes, and demonstrated how it should have been done.
“When man goes to the moon, he puts a flag,” Schnarch began, gesturing with the bow to her violin.
“When he gets to unclaimed territory – he puts a flag. When you get to the forte note in this piece – you must put a flag down!” Schnarch exclaimed.
Horowitz nodded, and began again, this time, determinedly planting a flag in her forte.
During dinner, maestros can be seen sitting casually next to the students in the large, airy dining hall.
After finishing the delicious, fresh food, a concert – also open to the public – usually takes place. Members of the kibbutz and surrounding areas all flocked to a large grassy area and sat surrounding the open stage that overlooks the mountains.
The theme of the concert that night was “The Taste of Seville,” and audience members delighted in the collaboration of flamenco dancers with the violin players. Amid the clapping of the audience, the swelling of the violin drifted out over the wild, untamed northern hills of the Galilee.