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October 27, 2023 11:29 am

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor Discusses ‘Unity in Times of Crisis’ as Musicians Perform for Israeli Victims of Hamas


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra’s Music Director Lahav Shani conducting the “Salute to Israel” concert while, behind him, seats in the Charles Bronfman Auditorium are draped with photos of the more than 200 civilians kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7. Photo: Screenshot

The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra’s (IPO) Music Director Lahav Shani addressed the power of music during difficult times and the solidarity of Israel’s citizens amid the ongoing war with Hamas before the start of the orchestra’s live global concert, which honored victims of the terrorist group’s Oct. 7 massacre in Israel.

“The grief and anger are so strong that it is difficult to feel anything else,” he said at the live broadcast “Salute to Israel” concert. “But it is at these moments that music has incredible strength. Music can contain and reflect all our feelings, side by side.”

Members of the IPO have been performing in smaller ensembles for victims of the Hamas terror attacks throughout Israel since the onset of the violence on Oct. 7, including for children and those evacuated from southern Israel, near the Gaza Strip.

At the solidarity concert on Sunday, Shani said the IPO, founded in 1936, has seen all the wars in Israel but still never thought that it would witness the violence and “inhuman atrocities” that took place earlier this month in Israel at the hands of Hamas. He expressed the IPO’s hope for the swift return of all hostages taken by the terror group and shared sorrow for those murdered by the terrorists. He also expressed solidarity with the Israeli military and “the volunteer soldiers, ordinary citizens, neighbors, and acquaintances” who are helping across Israel during the war.

“The solidarity of all Israeli society is a ray of light in these dark times,” he explained. “The resourcefulness, cooperative spirit, and willingness to volunteer inspire us and give us hope. Solidarity is the source of our strength … I wish us all better day.”

Shani additionally quoted the late Jewish composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, who said following the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy in 1963: “Our music will never be the same. This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”

The IPO performed the “Salute to Israel” concert in Tel Aviv’s Charles Bronfman Auditorium to a room that was empty of any real audience members and instead had draped on every seat photos of the more than 200 hostages, mostly Israelis, who were kidnapped from Israel by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7. The concert began with Israel’s national anthem, Hatikva, and at the end of the concert, the orchestra stood in silence and turned with Shani to face the empty seats of the audience with the posters.

Watch the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s “Salute to Israel” concert in the video below.

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