Ensemble Modern/Photo: Katrin ShillingEnsemble Modern/Photo: Katrin Shilling

Expect the unexpected at the Israel Festival, in a music program that intrigues, challenges and promises to delight with excellent performances from international and Israeli musicians. Opening on May 28, 2015 with Shalom Hanoch and special guests at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem, the festival explores the full range from classical to alternative, favorite Israeli songs and new genre-bending productions. Performances will take place in the many inviting venues Jerusalem offers, including: the Jerusalem Theater, Beit Mazya, YMCA, and the Tower of David.

One of the most intriguing events is the arrival of Ensemble Modern from Germany, considered one of the most important contemporary music ensembles. On June 21, the ensemble of 18 musicians will perform Heiner Goebbels’ Black on White, in which they will be as much stage performers as musicians. The work is based on texts by Edgar Allan Poe and Maurice Blanchot, and calls for the musicians to move and interact with one another and different instruments onstage, creating an art work with a multiplicity of voices, among them that of poet and dramatist Heiner Müller reading Poe’s Shadow – A Parable. The performance will take place on June 21 in Sherover Hall, The Jerusalem Theater at 21:00, and is 80 minutes long, with no intermission. The performance is in German and English with Hebrew subtitles.

Ensemble Modern will also perform with Israeli musicians on June 24th, celebrating Helmut Lachenmann’s 80th anniversary, in a joint concert of contemporary Israeli and German music, conducted by Ilan Volkov. The concert takes place as part of the events celebrating 50 years to diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany, and will feature works by Helmut Lachenmann, Unsuk Chin, Dan Yuhas, and Yuval Shaked, and will take place in Henry Crown Hall, The Jerusalem Theater, at 21:00. Duration is 80 minutes, with an intermission. A pre-performance discussion with composer Helmut Lachenmann will take place at 19:00 in the Henry Crown Hall, with the participation of moderator Emmanuel Witzthum and conductor Ilan Volkov, and will include the performance of two solo compositions by Lachenmann.

The Meitar Ensemble/Photo: Meirav KadishevskyThe Meitar Ensemble/Photo: Meirav Kadishevsky

Theatre, literature and music meet in Don Quixote Chronicle of a Lost War, performed by The Meitar Ensemble and Doron Tavory. There will be two performances at Beit Mazia on June 6th, at 21:00 and 23:00. Duration is 60 minutes, there will be no intermission. Poet and translator Tal Nitzan takes a contemporary look at the second part of Don Quixote, asking some difficult questions in marking the 400th anniversary of Miguel de Cervantes’ classic novel.

Doron Tavory/Photo: Nili MamanDoron Tavory/Photo: Nili Maman

Actor Doron Tavory of the sonorous voice, is one of the most profound and thrilling performers on the Israeli stage. Merging classical and contemporary music, the scenes take place in several different stations, revealing battles against windmills, demons and other enemies. This standing only performance allows the audience to move between stations, determining their own experience of the performance.

Badad, based on the life and music of Israeli singer Zohar Argov (1955 – 1987), features an outstanding group of Israeli performers: Ninet Tayeb, Shai Tsabari, Ravid Kahalani, Maya Belsitzman, Avishai Cohen and the Rea Mochiach Ensemble. Known as the king of Mizrahi music, the emotional power of his voice crossed cultural and genre borders to touch the heart.

His songs – Perakh BeGani (Flower in My Garden), Badad (Alone), Sod HaMazalot (The Zodiac Secret) – endure through the years, and in this super-group of musicians and singers, have found performers who can bring the same kind of deep connection to all audiences. The performance will take place on June 18th in the Tower of David – Museum of History of Jerusalem at 21:00. This will be an outdoor performance with unmarked seating, warm clothing is recommended. Duration is 80 minutes, there will be no intermission.

More musical offerings include a Tchaikovsky marathon under the musical direction of Gil Shohat, featuring the Nutcracker Suite, Suite from the ballet Sleeping Beauty and other favorite works; Lofty Mountain and Flowing Water performed by the Jun Tian Yun He Ensemble from China, a contemporary adaptation of a traditional composition, featuring the guqin – a 3,000-year-old Chinese string instrument in a performance that merges music with improvisation and artistic Tai Chi movements; the musical drama Refidim Junction with music and libretto by Magret Wolf; Next Generation concerts at the Eden-Tamir Center in Ein Kerem, and more.

The full program and ticket information may be found on the Israel Festival website (in English): http://israel-festival.org/show/?lang=en

Refidim Junction/Photo courtesy of PRRefidim Junction/Photo courtesy of PR