Saturday, June 25th | 26 Sivan 5782

May 7, 2020 4:45 am

How to Enjoy and Learn From Israel’s Philharmonic Amid Quarantine

avatar by Danielle Ames Spivak


Musicians from the woodwind section of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in the music video released for Passover. Photo: Screenshot.

Many of us have seen videos of city residents singing classic songs from their balconies as a way to connect with each other at a time when, for their own safety, public squares, markets, and concert halls must remain empty.

We bond by sharing music. For Jewish communities around the world, hungry to maintain connection with Israel, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) is filling the void.

The IPO’s recent Passover medley exemplifies this spirit. It is a statement of true freedom and celebration in the face of adversity and challenge — a statement that connects us to Israel at a time when we cannot physically visit the land.

And it is just one example. This world-class symphonic ensemble is posting past performances on multiple platforms, hosting live music lessons and seminars, and sharing delightful videos of some of the world’s preeminent musicians playing at home.

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Here are four ways you can connect with Israel through its Philharmonic Orchestra — and enjoy entertainment and inspiration at home while you do.

1. Dress up for a virtual concert. More and more full-scale performances are being posted online everyday, and American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic is making sure these incredible concerts are easy for English-speaking audiences to find. We highly recommend gathering your household, dressing in your formal best, and streaming the Israel Phil, conducted by Lahav Shani with pianist Martha Argerich, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 2 and Brahms’ Symphony no. 2, or one of these other incredible concerts, on your TV or computer.

2. Access world-class music lessons. Do you play an instrument? The Israel Philharmonic, thanks in part to the generosity of American supporters, also plays a central role in several programs to educate budding musicians. In the past weeks, they’ve posted lessons and seminars for any teachers, students, or musicians to check out and learn. Members from just about every section of the orchestra have all shared techniques that have helped them become the musicians they are today. Some of these lessons include bassoon tips and a practice routine from Assistant Principal Bassoonist Uzi Shalev, a review of the violin (plus a few pop quizzes!) from violinist Asaf Maoz, and it’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s a Flight of the Bumblebee from flautist Boaz Meirovitch!

3. Hear another side of the IPO musicians. The esteemed members of the Israel Philharmonic are letting loose on social media with fun videos of playing at home. On the Israel Philharmonic’s Instagram, you can see Principal Oboist Dudu Carmel and Assistant Principal Cellist Linor Katz perform as a family as their daughter Alma taps her feet along to a Tchaikovsky selection in a baby carrier on Dudu’s chest. Bass clarinetist Jonathan Hadas has been posting “pajama sessions,” where he plays multiple things in perfect harmony, including a unique arrangement of Chopin no. 2 that includes percussion in the form of lemon maracas and toilet paper drums. If you need something a little more laid-back, here’s a session with only three of them. Or watch a sweet music lesson from Principal Cellist Emanuele Silvestri to his daughter Luna.

4. Expand your musical horizons. Variety is the spice of life. While staying at home means that we can’t go to different places physically, we can still try new things. Our music experts curated a playlist of Jewish music to help bring attention to modern and historical pieces that have moved Jews across the diaspora and in Israel. And if you’re looking for suggestions children will enjoy, Sharon Cohen, member of the First Violin section, has you covered (with a little help from her son Geva).

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is Israel’s preeminent cultural ambassador, strengthening our bonds to this incredible country. It’s our mission as American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to spread that global dialogue of Israel’s remarkable artistic impact, and the power of music to move the world and inspire belief in a brighter future.

Now, even more so in this difficult time, the power of music provides comfort, inspiration — and connection to our Jewish state.

Danielle Ames Spivak is Executive Director of the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

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