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Strike a chord

Aug 19. 2016
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By The Nation

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The Israel Camerata Jerusalem Orchestra brings its music to Bangkok
BANGKOK’S CLASSICAL music lovers are in for a treat at Bangkok’s 18th International Festival of Dance & Music.
The Israel Camerata Jerusalem Orchestra will strike up under the baton of conductor Avner Biron on Sept 22.
There is no denying that Israelis home to phenomenal talent when it comes to western classical music. A talent the nation has harnessed well. Zubin Mehta, music director for life, explained it perfectly, “It’s hard to find an emblem of cultural, national pride that burns as bright as Israel’s success in classical music.” 
The story of the Israel Camerata is a reflection of this pride. In Bangkok, music lovers will get the opportunity to encounter the genius of Israeli Cellist Zvi Plesser, one of the most remarkable cello soloists of our times.
Biron, one of Israel’s leading musicians and musicologists, founded the Israel Camerata in 1984 and has been its music director and permanent conductor ever since. Biron has also conducted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Sinfonieta Orchestra, and other well-known orchestras around the world. In 2005 Biron was awarded the Minister of Education Prize for excellence and artistic achievements for his contribution to the musical life in Israel. 
In the early 1990s, a dramatic opportunity arose for the orchestra when a flood of immigrant musicians from the former Soviet Union arrived in Israel. Biron grabbed the opportunity and invited many of them to join the Camerata, which revolutionized the orchestra. In the process Biron brought together veteran and young musicians who collaborated and grew together as musicians, creating a sound that was wholly theirs. 
These immigrant musicians contributed significantly to the growth of the orchestra, the quality of its musical program, the high standards of its performances, making the orchestra the top chamber orchestra in the country. 
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the 36-strong orchestra is that despite being a fully harmonious collective, there’s space for the strong individual voices of the musicians. The collective cohesiveness is thanks to Biron who will not compromise, and encourages almost academic standards of musicology and study of each work, followed by a dialogue. 
Strangely it is because of this collaboration that the musical personality of each performer can be distinctly recognised and appreciated. Making it one of the most unique orchestras in the world. Not surprisingly a large number of orchestra members perform and record as soloists, as well as in chamber ensembles in Israel and abroad.
It is not surprising then that under Biron’s guidance the orchestra has received world wide recognition. The New York Times wrote, “The Israel Camerata Orchestra is one of the most highly regarded orchestras in Israel... the best of the new generation of Israeli ensembles.”
It performs an extraordinary number of concerts – over 100 – each year both in Israel and abroad. It has performed at major concert halls in Paris, Bonn Frankfurt, Leipzig, Geneva, Lyons, Marseilles, Rome, Karlsruhe, New York, Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, South Carolina, Florida, Vancouver and Calgary and several cities in Asia. 
The Camerata has participated in a large number of festivals, including the Schleswig-Holstein festival, the Reingau Festival, the Weilburg Festival, and the Rolands-Eck Festival in Germany, the Lille Festival in France, and in Vittoria, Spain. Besides festivals and special concerts the orchestra also reaches out to schools via unique educational projects. 
In order to creatively challenge his musicians Biron collaborates with musicians of Plesser’s calibre regularly. Plesser, with several recordings to his credit, is in great demand world wide, and has collaborated with some of the leading instrumentalists and conductors of today. 
As soloist he has performed with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC, the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, and the Sofia Philharmonic. He has worked closely with renowned conductors like Zubin Mehta, Sir Neville Marriner Asher Fisch, David Stern, Steven Sloane and Sergiu Comissiona. 
Last year Plesser appeared as a soloist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in a special concert conducted by Maestro Simon Rattle in Berlin. He is also music director of the Voice of Music Festival in the Upper Galilee – Israel’s oldest chamber music festival. Bangkok is really in for a treat when Plesser puts the bow to his cello. 
Biron creates original and interesting concert programmes, and takes pride in showcasing rare gems of the classical music world in Israel’s concert halls. The orchestra’s repertoire ranges from the early baroque to contemporary music, including world premieres of works commissioned by the orchestra, with special emphasis on works by Israeli composers. For Bangkok he has put together a programme that brings out the strengths of the orchestra.
The evening opens with BelaBarto’s Divertimento for String Orchestra, followed by Joseph Haydn’s Cello Concerto No 1, Mark Kopytma’s Kaddish and Franz Schubert’s Symphony No 5. A programme that gives Plesser plenty of room to showcase his talent. It will be a night to remember for the lovers of western classical music.
The Festival is sponsored by Crown Property Bureau, Bangkok Bank, Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, BMW Thailand, B.Grimm Group, Dusit Thani Bangkok, Indorama Ventures, Ministry of Culture, Nation Group, PTT, Singha Corporation, Thai Airways International and Tourism Authority of Thailand.
 
SOUND OF STRINGS
- The Israel Camerata Orchestra will perform on September 22 at 7.30pm.
- Venue: Main Hall, Thailand Cultural Centre, Bangkok
- Tickets: Thai Ticket Major (www.thaiticketmajor.com; Hotline 02 262 3191 and at the counters
- For more information: www.BangkokFestivals.com

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