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The Orchestra completed its South American Tour with 2 concerts in Santiago de Chile. The first concert was at Teatro Municipal, a beautiful 19th century opera house. The second was at Arena Moviestar before a tremendous audience of 6000!

For some reason, there were no programs and the presenter of the concert did not appear, leaving the audience to guess when to applaud…and they guessed wrong.

They applauded between movements, but at the end of the concert did not applaud at all! Instead, they remained quietly in their seats assuming the music would continue. Zubin Mehta and the orchestra left the stage thinking that the concert was over! Would the evening, and the tour, really end in confusion on such an embarrassing note????

Within minutes, the orchestra rallied for a quick return appearance. Zubin grabbed the cello microphone to clear up the confusion, and then directed 3 encores: Donner und Blitz Polka, Waltz from Swan Lake and Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance #8.

This time there was endless applause and a standing ovation for the Maestro and the Israel Philharmonic!


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Teatro Colon has been the scene of music history since its creation in 1857, the construction of the present building in 1908 and its $100 M. renovation in 2010.

This week, the Israel Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta are appearing in three concerts: “Also Sprach Zarathustra”- Tchaikovsky Sym. #4; Dvorak Sym. 8- Brahms Sym. #1; Mozart Sym. #40- Mahler Sym. #5.  Every evening the hall has been absolutely full and the reviews have been excellent.

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After opening a 5 day visit in Argentina at the Teatro Colon, the orchestra performed outdoors in one of Buenos Aires neighborhoods.

The Sunday morning’s weather was cold a clear; 6 C!!! The 1030 rehearsal began with coats, hats and scarves. By concert time, half of the stage was boiling in the sun, and the other half was still freezing in the shade.

Zubin was at his best pleasing both orchestra and audience with “Forza”, “Fledermaus”, Mozart 40, “Tritsch-Trasch”, “Voices of Spring” and the Finale from “Dafnis”.

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The audience also tangoed in the aisles to “Por una Cabeza” by Carlos Gardel.

“You were all heroes! No other orchestra would have stayed on stage under those conditions”, complimented Zubin Mehta after the outdoor concert in Campinas.

The next evening we performed Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms at the Theatro Municipal de Paulina. Campinas is a 2 hour bus ride from San Paolo. In the evening we rehearsed and performed Mozart and Mahler at the beautiful Sala Sao Paolo; an old train station completely re-fitted to be a concert hall. In the audience were Brazilian students from the Buchmann-Mehta Academy, University of Tel Aviv.

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Winter Tel Avivi in Campinas Brazil! The IPO and thousands of happy Brazilians braved cold, wind and even rain at an outdoor gala last night in Campinas. Musicians either wore their jackets under their dress shirts, or came on stage with winter coats and hoods.

In the middle of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, the entire first violin section picked up their chairs and music to crowd “left” into the orchestra and get out of the bursts of rain. The acoustic shell dripped on music and instruments…but the audience didn’t leave, and they didn’t lower their Israeli flags!

The best musical event of the day was a jam session of samba at the Rio airport with players Gadi Lederman, Jonathan Hadas and Daniel Ring, and dancers Iris Regev and Sivan Mayyani…look for it on Facebook.

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Last night the orchestra surprised the Rio audience with a last minute change: Pinchas Zukerman performed Mozart third violin concerto with the IPO.

Pinki is on a chamber music tour of South America with his wife Amanda.  It’s the kind of surprise that only Zubin and Pinki, two life-long friends, can pull off!  After intermission, the orchestra continued with the planned program: Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.

Watch Video:  Maestro Zubin Mehta fala sobre capacidade de inclusão social da música

This morning, the orchestra flies to San Paolo for an outdoor evening concert in Campinas.  It was a rushed visit to one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but it was nice waking up in Rio to the sound of waves on the beach!

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We flew from Lima to Rio (same distance as London to Tel Aviv!)  on Friday; 10:00 departure from the hotel,  arrival at airport, check-in, passport control then “demorado”: “delayed!!!”

It was already 16:00 when we took-off flying east over a vast desert and huge Lake Titicaca.  No roads, homes or settlements for hours of flying into the darkness.  We arrived in Rio exhausted, but woke to dawn over Copacabana.

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The last concert of the 2009 South America Tour took place at the Arena de Santiago with an audience of 12,000.

Have you ever heard 12,000 people on their feet and cheering?  That’s enough people to fill the Hechal Hatarbut five times!  Already with the singing of the Chilean Anthem the crowd was warming up, but by the time we were playing our encores, Zubin had them on their feet shouting for more.

Standing ovation of 12,000     

Trumpet soloist YigaelIt was a festive program of Beethoven Seventh Symphony, Fledermaus Overture, Haydn Trumpet Concerto (IPO soloist Yigael Meltzer), “Gracias a la Vida” by Chile’s own Violeta Parra and other hits by the Strauss Family; “Emporer Waltz”, “No Brakes Polka” and “Thunder and Lightening.”    The IPO’s program opened Chile’s celebrations of 200 years of independence.  It was an incredibly rewarding way to finish the tour. 

rappeling from the ceiling at the ArenaThe “Arena” is so large and preparations so meticulous, that a youth orchestra was brought-in the day before to rehearse and try-out our sound system, a full hour break between the rehearsal and concert was needed to facilitate the seating of the audience (more sandwiches for the IPO) and the light crew focused its “spots” by rappelling down ropes from the ceiling. 

At the acoustic rehearsal before the concert Zubin and the IPO management thanked impresario Roberto Ring and his staff who managed the tour, the guest musicians who joined the IPO for the 4 weeks and the many orchestra members who took on additional tasks, like suitcase crew and the travel committee.  

It’s hard to believe that the month of touring is coming to a close.  In its 18 concerts in 7 cities, the IPO reached an audience of between 50 and 60 thousand people.  South America, with its developing economies and societies was a fascinating lesson in the hopes and the accomplishments of people and nations. Many IPO members have seen that process over the years and remember military dictatorships, depressing poverty and hyper-inflation, warnings not to mention civil rights, and crime on the streets.  South America of 2009 hints of new things; people enjoying a better life with real hope for the future.

The IPO left Argentina and flew over the snow covered Andes to Chile.  All went smoothly and most of the orchestra members were already seated in the bus for the hotel in Santiago, but we just waited. Half an hour, 45 minutes, and we were still missing 12 players!  Two apples, one banana, a tangerine and a hand carved pencil were among the items discovered in the x-ray search and our colleagues had been detained at customs for one of the most serious Chilean crimes: bringing fruit into the country!  They were to be tried on the spot.

For their crimes there is a compulsory fine of $300 and an additional fine for every kilo of fruit.  To the rescue came Enrique Maltz, Spanish speaking IPO cellist and now, amateur lawyer.  Enrique pleaded for compassion, accused the Chilean head of customs of being “insensitive” to well-intending musicians who are already 3 weeks away from home and whose only languages are Hebrew and Russian. He claimed that they had no way of understanding the warnings in Spanish and English on the airplane. 

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cordova mallA huge crowd of Argentinean music lovers came to Cordova’s Ofeo Superdomo to hear the IPO with Zubin Mehta.

Five minutes after the scheduled start of the concert, the line to enter the basketball stadium with 7,000 seats was backed-up out the door, over a pedestrian bridge and snaked twice around the parking lot of a nearby shopping mall.

An audience of 7,000 is the equivalent of three concerts at Hechal HaTarbut in Tel Aviv! Wednesday is a travel day with the orchestra flying over the Andes to Santiago de Chile. The instruments, on the other hand go 800 km. by truck back to Buenos Aires in order to catch a plane big enough to transport them.

cordova warm up