While its members may not be used to snow – the group had to cancel its February 5 concert because of the omnipresent white stuff blanketing our area – the Haifa Symphony Orchestra certainly is familiar with beautiful music.
Indeed, says Motti Eines, the orchestra’s general director, when the group plays in Englewood on February 17, it will bring the best of Israeli music to bergenPAC.
Now on an eight-week concert tour of the United States, the HSO – one of only three symphony orchestras in Israel, Mr. Eines said – is led by music director Maestro Xu Zhong. While Israel has many chamber orchestras as well as a philharmonic orchestra, symphony orchestras can be found only in Jerusalem, Rishon LeZion, and Haifa.
Mr. Eines said that Haifa created its own orchestra because “it’s in the DNA of the city,” which, he said, is devoted to the arts and education. “It’s in the culture of Haifa,” he added, citing the city’s two universities and the Haifa Theater, Israel’s first municipal theater.
Founded in 1950 and boasting some 75 musicians, the group recently has expanded its activities, serving as the focal point of musical life in Haifa and the north of Israel. According to its general manager, the musicians hail from all over the Israel as well as from other countries – including five members originally from the United States.
In addition, Mr. Eines said, members of the orchestra perform all over Israel, offering not only traditional concerts but participating also in children’s events, operas, and light music programs.
“Altogether, our members participate in about 90 concerts a year,” he said.
While Mr. Eines has been to the United States before, the current concert tour is a first for the orchestra, which has on its agenda performances in places such Florida, Virginia, California, and Colorado. Concerts include both old and new music.
“We play a lot of Israeli compositions but we focus on everything, including classics and romantics,” Mr. Eines said.
According to the group’s website, the orchestra encourages the promotion of Israeli culture and often provides opportunities to showcase Israeli soloists and conductors. In recognition of its efforts, the HSO received the Prime Minister’s Award for its leading role in promoting original Israeli music. At the February 17 concert, the orchestra will showcase a new viola concerto by composer Uri Bracha, called “Melodies for Mount Carmel.”
“Haifa has one of the best orchestras in Israel,” Mr. Eines said. “And we love to make music.”
| What: Haifa Symphony Orchestra concert
When: February 17 at 7 p.m.
Where: bergenPAC, 30 North Van Brunt St., Englewood
For more information, call the box office at (201) 227-1030.