Friendly fire

This year’s Maestro Festival in Ein Hod - offering music, gallery exhibitions, and tours - is dedicated to reviving the Carmel region.

maestro festival kids_521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
maestro festival kids_521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Last year, residents of the Carmel mountains got a taste of the harsh side of the elements. During days of relentless brush and forest fires, they watched their homes go up in smoke and their foliage wither away to ashes. But, like a phoenix, the silenced areas of the Carmel are beginning to awaken and to shake off their soiled feathers.
Falling perfectly in step with the joyous holiday of Shavuot is the annual Maestro Festival in Ein Hod. Hosted by the Maestro Association, the festival will take place over four days and will include a wide range of musical performances, gallery exhibitions and a special contest involving a local sculptor.
In the coming week, the festival will act as a beacon for a plethora of renowned musicians. Under the baton of maestro Gil Shohat, 20 performances will take place at various locations throughout Ein Hod, including the amphitheater and the Janco Dada Museum. In addition, a number of tours will be offered tracing the history of the community and its famous artists. Activities are scheduled from morning to night and are geared to the entire family.
The flames that crushed Ein Hod’s scenic homes reminded Aviva Haimovich, director and founder of the Maestro Association, of the passion for music that has burned inside of her for many years.
Haimovich is the initiator of this glorious festival, which aims to expose both children and their parents to elements of the arts they are not familiar with.
For most of her life, Haimovich was determined to keep her love of the guitar and flute on the back burner. Born in the north of the country, Haimovich was taught from early on that music could not take the place of a sturdy, reliable career.
“In my background, I have musical training,” she explains. “Art is for the soul, that’s how I was raised, but that you need a profession.”
To the shock and dismay of her music teachers, Haimovich left her talent by the wayside after high school to pursue studies in education. She became a science teacher, working in high schools and at the prestigious Technion Institute.
A mother of two, Haimovich was witness to the music education available in local schools.
“I was around my kids as they learned, and we hosted musicians in our home. The possibility to influence children through music in schools was very limited at the time.”
Then, in the middle of everything, she made a drastic change. In 2002, she abandoned her job, sold her home and established the Maestro Association with money out of her own pocket.
“I left everything to teach music, because I really believe in music education. For 10 years we have worked on a volunteer basis. We opened the organization mainly geared towards the periphery, because the opportunity in those areas to be exposed to music was the most limited.
“The festival came from the desire to give kids a chance to be exposed to other art forms, like the ones in Ein Hod. The arts allow children to develop their intelligence, and to explore beyond their regular grasp. It also contributes a lot of pleasure and social activities. We can use music to influence each and every child,” she said.
Haimovich’s ideas fall easily into accordance with developmental psychologist Howard Gardner’s revolutionary theory of the seven intelligences.
“Music is one of the seven known intelligences,” said Haimovich. “It is a field that activates both sides of the brain, the logical/problem-solving side and the imaginative/expressive side. Our program brings an alternative to all kinds of forbidden things for kids: to yell, to cry, and to scream. We give them options for what you can do – to play, to listen, to feel things via the music, to find connections with one another. For example, by playing music together, children have found meaningful means of communication with each other.”
The Maestro Association’s yearly activities include seminars and workshops for children in all areas of the country with top Israeli musicians. Many of these artists have left Israel in order to earn a decent living, something they found impossible to achieve at home. Haimovich’s program exposes children to styles of music they are not likely to hear in school while providing an opportunity for these talented individuals to work within the country.
“The core of this festival is to give the stage to Israeli musicians,” said Haimovich.
The festival will feature a performance by the Israeli Haydn Quartet.
Another particularly poignant event will be the performance of maestro Gil Shohat’s “The Symphony of Fire.” This etude focuses on the positive, energetic face of fire and is the perfect piece with which to officially revive Ein Hod and the Carmel.
The Maestro Festival will take place from June 8-11. For more information about the festival, visit