The sounds of childhood

From hassidic folklore to Dorothy, the Tslilei Yaldut Festival appeals to all ages.

The Israel Camerata Jerusalem orchestra features in the festival’s flagship production, ‘Play Me a Story.’ (photo credit: GALIT DEUTSCH)
The Israel Camerata Jerusalem orchestra features in the festival’s flagship production, ‘Play Me a Story.’
(photo credit: GALIT DEUTSCH)
Judging by the program of this year’s Tslilei Yaldut (Sounds of Childhood) Festival, artistic director Ori Leshman is taking the event with the utmost seriousness. An internationally acclaimed composer and conductor, Leshman has lined up a pan-sensory roster of shows that are designed to captivate all the members of the audiences, young to not-so-young.
The three-day festival, which caters to entertainment consumers from the age of five and up, kicks off at the Steinberg Culture and Arts Center in Holon on October 12 at 8 p.m. with a production that oozes retro charm.
(The festival’s regular berth, the Holon Theater, is undergoing renovation work.) The show leans heavily toward Eastern European tradition and goes by the name of Yishai Lapidot and the Jewish Song Council. The eponymous singer, a stellar performer on the contemporary haredi entertainment circuit, will be accompanied by a full choir and a string ensemble under the direction of Yoni Eliav.
The show is something of a blast from the past, offering well-known gems from hassidic musical folklore seasoned with stories and an abundance of anecdotal asides. The members of the audience will also be encouraged to join in the onstage fun.
The show is tailored for Orthodox patrons, so there will be separate seating arrangements for men and women.
The flagship production of the three-day festival is Play Me a Story.
Leshman and his cohorts have clearly put their hearts, souls and plenty of sweat into putting the show together.
For starters, there’s the acclaimed Israel Camerata Jerusalem orchestra, along with two guest vocalists. Leshman is hands-on here, too, and will be on the conductor’s dais for the occasion.
The artistic director has also brought gifted actor-comedian Dror Keren and augmented the music and oratory with some deft animation work courtesy of Dudu Shalita. If we needed any proof of just how seriously Leshman takes entertaining children, we need look no further than Play Me a Story.
The two aforementioned productions bookend yet another multidisciplinary enterprise called Dorothy, based on the beloved character from The Wizard of Oz. The cast includes the Fresco Yoram Carmi Dance Company, with Carmi responsible for the choreography, and the dramatics augmented by actors Tali Ben-Yosef and Meital Damari.
Leshman feels that the eclectic, multi-pronged approach to this year’s festival will bring dividends for all concerned.
“The spirit behind the festival is really all the art forms – theater, cinema, animation and dance, as well as the technological element, which I think is very interesting,” he says.
However, he adds that he doesn’t want to stray too far from the thematic discipline.
“The basis of this festival is, of course, the music,” he notes. “Technology is also important, but the core of the festival is the original productions we bring to it.”
Leshman is particularly proud of Play Me a Story and says a lot of thought went into the creative process to ensure that the juniors in the audience will fully appreciate the end result.
“I aimed this for the world of emotion and dreams and fantasy, which are all suitable for children. This a multi-sensory work that also incorporates Dudu Shalita’s wonderful animation, and Dror Keren knows exactly how to communicate with children on their own level. And the score is an original work of mine,” he says.
Leshman’s inspiration for his musical input came from a very different form of artistic endeavor.
“I based the music on an animated film that won an Oscar [in 2010] called The Lost Thing,” he explains.
The Australian short tells the touching tale of a boy named Shaun who, one day on the beach, discovers a strange-looking creature that no one else seems to have noticed.
The storyline is set in dystopian Melbourne.
Realizing that he wasn’t going to get any help from anyone else – especially not the adults – Shaun sets about finding out where his new outsized friend belongs. Eventually he finds his way to a utopian land for lost things and takes the creature back where it belongs. Leshman will conduct his own music, with the film screened as a backdrop.
Leshman says the confluence of music and the silver screen is a natural fit.
“The very first silent movie, made by the Lumiere brothers in 1895, had someone playing the piano while the screening was going on,” he explains.
“From the very beginning of cinema, no one thought the screening should go on in silence. It is interesting that music has always been a part of every form of art – from vaudeville to the theater in general.”
According to Leshman, music does more for on-screen action than add a pleasant sonic underpinning.
“Back then, if people watched a movie and saw people talking but couldn’t hear them, it was a frightening and emotionally sterile experience.
Music adds a cognitive element that is very important for the viewer.
Music also has this magical property of making what you are seeing on the screen seem real,” he says.
And we are not just talking about any sounds. “Classical music has always played a major part in so much amazing movie material,” says Leshman, “from Tom and Jerry to Mickey Mouse and, of course, Fantasia.”
The audiovisual synergy, says Leshman, is a natural sign of our times.
“We live in such a visual world, a world that is so Internet-oriented, that children are so used to this. I believe that if you take a work by Schubert or Mozart, you play it in its entirety; you don’t get in the way of the original composition. But I have absolutely no problem with taking a classical composition and bonding it with a movie, a quality movie, and generating a multi-sensory experience. I think children get that,” he says.
For tickets and more information about the Tslilei Yaldut Festival: (03) 502-3001 and