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The IPO wound up its short tour of the US with a triumphant concert in the beautiful Disney Hall in Los Angeles. The most tense moment of the evening was when our travel manager Ofer Lapidot addressed the orchestra in rehearsal with plans for the return to Israel, “…as planned!” We will be among the first flights to land at JFK airport before continuing to Tel Aviv.

The standing room only crowd received Zubin Mehta , the IPO and Yuja Wang with a standing ovation both at the beginning and the end of the concert.

 

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Last night the IPO performed in Las Vegas with soloist Yuja Wang while Hurricane Sandy battered the East Coast of the US. We returned to the hotel at 01:00 in the morning to scenes of un-imaginable scenes of destruction on our televisions.

Although our first thoughts were about if we would be able to return to Israel via New York’s JFK Airport, we also thought of how lucky the orchestra had been! If “Sandy” had struck 3 days earlier, we would have been forced to cancel the NY Gala in Carnegie Hall; we would have been stuck in NYC making the West Coast concerts impossible; we would have been sitting in a hotel with no electricity, phones or internet and still have no way to return to Israel!

Las Vegas has a brand new concert hall and it was packed for the IPO’s first appearance. Yuga Wang performed Chopin Piano Concerto #1 and 2 encores. Every piece; Schubert Symphony #3, Chopin and Brahms’ First Symphony, was met with a standing ovation! The orchestra arrived by charter airplane with its own private security check on the runway. No short-cuts in the US when talking about airport security!

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This morning at breakfast, all eyes were on Ofer, our travel agent. In the meantime he is maintaining silence as to our flight home.

Bringing Noam Sheriff’s oratorio “Mechayeh HaMetim” (“Resurrection of the Dead”) to a Gala New York performance sponsored byfor the American Friends of the IPO was inspired by the enthusiastic response of the audience at the Salzburg Festival.

In a packed Carnegie Hall, it once again worked its magic!  The response from the New York audience to the massive piece orchestrated for men’s chorus (Collegiate Chorale), children’s chorus (Manhattan Girls Chorus), cantor Carl Hieger, baritone  Thomas Hampson and large orchestra was overwhelming.

Zubin Mehta commanded a performance which was technically exact and yet full of emotion; moving and expressive.  The composer sat close-by in rehearsals, and at the performance in the first box seat. A small anti-Israel demonstration on the steps of the hall didn’t affect the spirits of the audience or orchestra.

It was a victory for Israeli music.

The program opened with Arnold Schoenberg’s “Kol Nidre” with soloist Thomas Hampson.  Pianist Yuja Wang joined the orchestra in a performance of Mendelssohn’s First Piano Concerto and 2 encores: Fantasy from “The Barber of Seville” and “Seguidilla” from Carmen.

 

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What better place to hold a joint-fund-raising event to benefit the Louis Pasteur Institute of Paris and the Weizman Institute of Rehovot but in Monte Carlo! Zubin Mehta, the Israel Philharmonic and Pinchas Zukerman appeared at the Garnier Opera House in “Le Casino” of Monte Carlo in a benefit concert of Mozart, Schubert and the Beethoven Violin Concerto.

“Pinki”, as he is known to orchestra members, performed a superb Beethoven; using his full arsenal of violin skills to bring elegance and power to Beethoven’s monumental concerto.  His silvery sound vibrated through the Opera House for the select audience; supporters of these two important institutions.

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Pinchas Zukerman will be visiting Israel the first week of March to open the renovated Hechal HaTarbut. On Saturday night, he was completely “at home” with the IPO, chatting with musicians and joking with Zubin during rehearsal.

On Thursday evening the IPO performed the second of its concerts in Vienna at the Musikverein. The program was Mendelssohn’s First Piano Concerto and Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.

Yuja Wang, making her Vienna debut after two weeks of performances in Israel, dazzled the audience with her Mendelssohn concerto then went on to play three encores; Schubert’s “Spinning Wheel” a demonically virtuosic arrangement of Mozart’s “Rondo alla Turka” and “Seguidilla” from Carmen.

The excitement of performing Mahler in his own hometown, on his own stage at the Musikverein was felt among all the orchestra members. At the conclusion of the symphony, the audience rose to its feet to applaud Maestro Mehta and the IPO.

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The Israel Philharmonic and with music director Zubin Mehta began their Fall Tour in “acoustic heaven:” the Grosser Musikvereinsaal in Vienna.

No concert hall is more celebrated for its incredible sound and beautiful decorations. The program included Hindemith “Mathis der Maler”, Mozart “Sinfonia Concertante” with IPO concertmasters Ilya Konovalov and Roman Spitzer and Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra”.

Extra seats were placed on the stage to accommodate the standing-room only audience and the orchestra went on to perform 2 encores after the Strauss.

 

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