The concert of the Estonian guest conductor Andres Mustonen with the Kibbutz Orchestra Netanya embarked with a kind of theatrical eruption: "Marche pour la ceremonie de Turcs" by Jean Baptiste Lully from of his music to Moliere`s "The Middle Class Gentleman". Mustonen`s broad gestures which radiate pleasure, signify a style not merely extrovert but one which extracts from the players highly charming music full of energy.
After being well primed by the Turkish March and the "Ballet des plaisirs" by Lully which followed, came the short and highly pleasing violin concerto op. 3 no. 9 by Vivaldi. Mustonen conducted and played the solo part, managing both with sweeping playful delight. Following arrived the "serious" main course, the cello concerto no. 1 by Shostakovich. The rhythmic bursting opening of the concerto, like a story told from the middle, kind of fused with the eruptive opening of the concert. Hillel Zori`s confident playing and his warm sound raised a wish to listen to the whole work once more. The second part opened with the Adagio for violin K. 261 by Mozart which caused a slight tension drop. This work which was composed By Mozart as an alternative to the famous adagio of his "Turkish" concerto is rarely performed. A nice movement, and a pleasing acquaintance. Than starred the "Little Daneliade" by the veteran Georgian composer Giya Kancheli. This kind of musical joke was composed as an homage to the Georgian film director Daneliade. The work which is mainly a repeating marching motive is highly minimalistic and theatrical, spiced up occasionally by the singular syllable "Ku" whispered by the players. The concert ended with "26 variation on Spanish La Folia" by Antonio Salieri. The variations are a shiny high factor fun music. It is worth while mentioning that this concert will be performed this week in Bet She`an and in Ein Hahoresh.
The Kibbutz Orchestra Netanya, conductor and solo violin: Andres Mustonen, cello solo: Hillel Zori, First Violin: Gilead Hildesheim, at the Givatayim Theater.

Hagai Hitron "Ha`aretz" March. 7, 2011

   Crossing stylistic borders

"It seems that nowadays only the Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra is able to invite artists in the caliber of Richard Galliano. The Orchestra's Musical Director Yaron Gottfried keeps on with his vision of ideal repertoire which crosses stylistic borders. He brings to the concert hall a variety of musical sounds and styles from all over the world and blends them with good taste.
Galliano, one of the leaders in his field, charmed the audience with his pleasant personality and flawless virtuosity. With Piazzolla's little Waltz he won their hearts.
The central work in the programme was Ginastera's music for the ballet "Estancia", a real gem by an underrated composer. Gottfried conducted well and the orchestra, throughout the whole evening, played beautifully and gave pleasure without sliding to entertainment".

The Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra, Conductor: Yaron Gottfried, Soloist: Richard Galliano, accordion
Works by by Bach, Ginastera, Galliano and Piazzolla

Noam Ben Zeev, "Haaretz", Feb. 20, 2011

   The Gate of Mercy

The production of "Clemenza di Tito" in Giv'at Brener was an important event that combined extremely original elements.
The approach of the director, Niv Hoffman, is that this is a Christian motif of forgiveness and clemency. Titus is presented as an enlightened person who does not yield to dictations, but his image is somewhat fantastic and not entirely realistic. At first he seems like a marionette and after the assassination attempt he changes and chooses pardon, contrary to expectations. The orchestra, conducted by Yaron Gottfried, was situated at the back of the stage, which gave the effect of a sound coming from afar, and not directly. The harpsichord has a central role in the accompaniment of the recitatives. Eitan Schmeisser played with all his heart, body and soul.
The stage is rather grey. It has a table, which later turns into a vertical surface, and a single chair. What I found wonderful was Niv Hoffman's idea to use the Da Da Dance Troupe, who served as both setting and interpretation. They dance with a lot of passion, at times looking like aliens, and their costumes are classic in shades of grey, which is the dominant color of the entire production. They adorn the recitatives and add an impressive dimension to the production. At the intermission, in which we already learn about the plot to assassinate Titus, the dancers go around the hall in masks and with lanterns, "seeking out" the assassin and putting up emergency notices. Is this how we defend democracy nowadays? An extremely original idea.
Throughout the opera there is a motif of the color green, which serves as a "leitmotif" (or idée fixe) and this is a small yet significant detail. Six talented Israeli singers take part in this production, and two of them were slightly more prominent: Ella Vassilevitsky and Ayala Zimbler. The costumes of Maor Zabar were unique and lovely especially in their classic grayness and Niv Hoffman's direction was excellent, intriguing and successful. The Netanya - Kibbutz Orchestra sounded good and musical even from afar. A premiere of Mozart's last opera is a major event.

ORA BINUR, MA'ARIV, 21.10.2010

   Titus Rules

The Netanya - Kibbutz Orchestra chose to open its season with a challenge: a production of "La Clemenza di Tito", Mozart's late opera, which is not as well known and popular as "The Magic Flute", "Marriage of Figaro" and others - but is still performed throughout the world relatively often.
The plot: the attempt to assassinate the emperor and his pardoning of the assassins - served as the basis of several operas in the 18th century - since the presentation of an enlightened and peace-loving ruler befitted the stately events in coronations and other ceremonies. Actually, a revision of the text shows a weak figure whose place is not on the throne. It is strange that this fact managed to slip from the eyes of Mozart's audiences, but nowadays, when one is allowed to criticize the government (well, it depends where), the opera is especially relevant - and this is exactly what Niv Hoffman bases his direction on.
Before the opening notes of the opera, the director already planted disturbing hints that forced the audience to doubt the characters' motives, and this continued until the surprising (yet logical) ending he created.
Hoffman managed to concoct a lively production, excelling in its fast tempo - certainly also thanks to the young and "hungry" singers.
The most intriguing was Efrat El'azar-Ashkenazi (Vitalia), who has a unique, dark and very rich soprano in the lower register. This is not a typically "Mozartian" voice, and hence its advantage. She wasn't afraid to sing coarsely, which intensified the drama. In lieu of the exciting result, cutting out the second aria was no less annoying than taking out the chorus parts.
Shira Raz struggled with the coloraturas in her first arias (to the charming accompaniment of clarinetist Nitzan Caspi). The second was performed very fast, which made it easier for the singer, but detracted from the emotional impact. On the other hand, the beauty of her voice, the talented acting and worthy coping with the required range enabled Raz to create a persuasive and even exciting character. The best female singers musically were Ella Vassilevitsky, a brilliant and beautiful soprano; and Ayala Zimbler, who was marvelous in her vocal ability and soared to touching heights in her second aria.
And what about the men? Nimrod Grinboim (Titus) scored an admirable achievement, which proved that the surprising casting coincided with the director's interpretation. The latter stressed beyond expectancy the presence of Publio, a seemingly modest role, which was performed well by Yair Goren.
One has to congratulate the orchestra and all those who contributed and stood up to the impressive challenge. Bravo!


   Up Against a Tough Challenge

The usual complaint regarding this specific Mozart opera, composed in his last year (simultaneously with "The Magic Flute") is that it doesn't have much music in it. What are we talking about? The "dry" recitatives (recitative secco), which are rather formulaic musically speaking, that divide between the arias, or between aria and ensemble. This was customary in "opera seria", the style in which this opera is written. It is also believed that due to time pressure Mozart let his pupil Süssmayer write the recitatives.
The director is therefore up against an especially tough challenge: he must compensate for a structural problem seemingly related to the genre. In one sentence: Hoffman solved the problem. The use of dancers (The Da Da Company, choreographed by Ya'ara Dolev and Amit Goldenberg) filled the gaps. They created a passionate atmosphere, at times, which befitted the plot and intensified the drama.

All in all, this production of "Clemenza di Tito" comes across as an opera that isn't as great as the other five Mozart operas, but is still an important and good work. Hearing the vocal quintet at the end of the first act, which is really chilling - like every encounter with Mozart at the peak of his genius - it is hard to understand why this opera hasn't previously been awarded the rightful attention in Israel. The Netanya - Kibbutz Orchestra and its music director Yaron Gottfried deserve warm thanks.



A Wonderful Evening of Comedy and Opera in a New Performance by the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra.

"Mad Opera". Stage Director Dani Erlich, Conductor Yaron Gottfried.
It's a long time since so many peals of laughter have been heard in the Tel Aviv Museum. The Israel Kibbutz Orchestra discovered the formula: It started with a refreshing and comic performance of the opera "The Impresario" by Mozart, in which two female sopranos compete for a role. Dani Erlich gracefully "managed" four doors, a table, two chairs and three highly talented singers, Hila Baggio, Yael Levite and Guy Mannheim.

The orchestra, with string and wind instruments, especially the beautiful oboe, produced a good sound.
The next piece was an optimistic rendering of Rossini's "The Italian Girl in Algiers".
Then came the surprise - "Mad Opera"," a stand-up performance composed, written, arranged and presented by David Sebba. Sebba pokes fun at operatic plots, at a soldier who sings for ten minutes with a dagger in his chest, at Russian songs and any other target he saw fit. Sebba is not only vastly talented. He also brings to classical music what the "Gashashim" comedy Group brought to our lives. Ora Binor Maariv Cultural Magazine, 22/4/09

Ora Binor, Maariv Cultural Magazine, 22.4.09

   Operatic Guide

The Israel Kibbutz Orchestra is currently touring the country, presenting two programmes which look at opera in an affectionate but rather cynical way.
The first part of the concert is devoted to an interesting version of the short comic opera by Mozart, 'The Impresario"(' musical fragments - the overture, two arias, trio and ensemble} are compounded into a new but reminiscent framework composed by Niv Hofman, while preserving the original concept of opera (concealing the true content behind a fa?ade ), and by the clever use of facts and anecdotes about the life of Mozart and the first night of "The Impresario".
Although the songs are in German and the dialogues are in Hebrew there is no feeling of dissonance, owing to the convincing fusion achieved by the producer, Dani Erlich and his four talented singers: the Baritone David Sabba- more about him later- the wonderful Tenor-Guy Mannheim, and the two delightful sopranos Hila Baggio and Yael Levite. They excel in singing, acting and elocution, equipped with a sense of humour and an impressive ability to function as a team
In accordance with his critical view of the genre, Mozart composed scores for his singers which forced them to reach the peak of their vocal range. Baggio and Levite face up to the challenge, and the result is pleasing.
The orchestra, conducted by Yaron Gottfried, is an integral part of the success. The tone is not authentic, but as my learned colleague commented in a different connection, it does not matter as long as it is competent. This is exactly so in the present case - the orchestra demonstrates delight and charm. Mozart would have enjoyed them as well.

The Art of Conversation. The only disturbing thing was the loudspeaker system, which distorted the sound of the voices.
The hall of the Tel Aviv Museum is not large, the acoustics are not problematic, and the singers are trained to function in much bigger spaces. The question is, where does the problem lie? Maybe in the multiple dialogues which are a large part of "The Impresario", The loudspeakers avoid the necessity for the singers to shout them, and waste their strength, which is intended for singing. But why this pettiness? With or without loudspeakers "The Impresario" is a jewel not to be missed. How wonderful it would be, if at the conclusion of the present short round of performances (at the end of April), the means could be found to continue to perform this "little" grand production.
The second part of the evening was opened by the Orchestra's performance of the overture to the opera "L'Italiana in Algeri" (Rossini 1813). The performance was reasonable but could have done with some improvements, in order to fully exploit Rossini's musical juiciness. David Sabba returned to the stage to perform his "Mad Opera', which he has been presenting continuously since 2006.
I saw the original version some months ago, where the pianist, Irith Rob, accompanied Saba. "Mad Opera" is wild Stand-Up comedy, taking on opera and other vocal efforts. It is intelligent and very funny. Highly recommended to all music lovers.

Less is More
In the present version, the parodies on Wagner and Debussy were omitted - a pity, but Sabba has restored the balance by including the orchestra. This is a great improvement which strengthens the whole performance.
Sabba declares that he would go further and include a whole symphony orchestra. I'm for it and recommend the Philharmonic. Maybe he can get them to reach critical sound mass and shatter that dreadful auditorium, and then, finally, it will have to be rebuilt. But even without an orchestra on a Mahlerian scale, Gottfried and the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra manage to pull it all off and appear to enjoy every minute. Actually, the players are laughing their heads off and struggling to play as well. Who can blame them? It is fun for everybody, and especially for the musicians.
A good word, for once, about the audience. It is a long time since I have encountered such enthusiasm for what was happening on the stage. In contrast to the usual herd of apathetic bourgeoisie that attends the Philharmonic or the Opera, the audience greeted the performers with great warmth, appreciation and respect. The proof: throughout the whole evening, not one cellular phone rang, even though there was no request to turn them off at the beginning of the concert. Wow!! What's more, at the end of the performance there was not the usual rush to leave the hall; on the contrary, the audience stayed in their seats clapping and cheering. What a pleasure.

Tel Aviv City: Opera Passport, 21.4.2008

   Mad Opera

"It's a long time since I have laughed until have cried as I did at an evening of "Mad Opera" with David Sabba and the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra directed by Yaron Gottfried. For my part, the two top places in a collection of parodies that Sabba presented went to the parodies on the operatic style of Rossini and on Bach's Mattheus Passion.
"During the first part of the progamme Mozart' s short "Impresario" opera was successfully and pleasantly performed by Sabba, accompanied by the tenor Guy Mannheim and sopranos Yael Levite and Hila Baggio under the stage direction of Dani Erlich. Disguised by jokes and musical effects, Mozart pokes fun at and even criticizes the class system - even in his own operas.
"Among the operatic extracts the orchestra performs the prelude to "The Italian Girl in Algier" by Rossini in a rousing performance and with excellent playing, especially by the wind instruments. An enjoyable, highly recommended."

Dani Bloch, "Daily Performance",The second Radio Station 20 Apr. ,2009


Concert of the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra, Programme: "From Broadway to Hollywood'

Leonard Bernstein once said that Jazz is the only music that allows one to play one note night after night and each time in a different way. Yesterday, as if in a storm, the concert began with Jazz penetrating the opening piece, Bernstein's 'Candide'. It overflowed with adrenaline and wonderful lightning…
What maddening delirium!

For a long time our concert halls have lacked the beauty of spontaneous performance. Conductor Yaron Gottfried, in his wonderful piano playing, brought the twins of imagination and creativity back to centre stage. There was definitely no place to yawn or be bored. What chutzpah!

Yaron Gottfried seats himself at the piano and as soloist, plays Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue", as if he was Oscar Levant in person: open, relaxed, and full of surprises. A pleasure!

The Israel Kibbutz Orchestra revealed itself yesterday as the Cinderella of our orchestras, and it lifted its head high and laughed triumphantly. The sound of the strings flowed beautifully and the wind instruments were brilliant.
With whose permission does a serious orchestra play with such "joi de vivre".?

Above all, it was the two guest soloists whose soaring voices swept the audience away with songs from famous musicals. Alison Buchanan's soprano voice simply cut the air with a knife. One could stir up all Tel Aviv with her voice.
The velvet voice of Leonard Rowe is stunning. It has the same baritone
Splendor and depth as the legendary Paul Robeson. Remember?

One last comment: The Israel Kibbutz Orchestra left Emek Yezre'el yesterday and sailed on the Mississipi. Would you believe it? Believe.

Hanoch Ron, "Yedioth Acharonot", 21 Feb. ,2008


Don't miss the opportunity the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra provides to hear a musical with a symphony orchestra.

An Orchestra with a Wealth of Disguises

The greatest sign of the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra's success since Yaron Gottfried took over as musical director is its ability to disguise itself. The expression 'chamber orchestra' for example, conjures up a very specific image in our collective memory: of an orchestra associated with a more or less fixed repertoire, and immediately after that, the names of the different chamber orchestras in Israel or abroad. What remains is to determine which of them is better, more intriguing, etc. Gottfried set himself the task of finding ways in which even a chamber orchestra would sound different every time, whether because of the music it plays or the style of playing that crystallizes during rehearsals. The orchestra sometimes surprises as a Baroque orchestra in the fullest meaning of the term, at other times with a romantic or classic repertoire.

In the current series, especially in the second part, the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra succeeds as an orchestra of American musicals - a traveling or entertainment orchestra. The program opens with the prelude to Leonard Bernstein's "Candide", and also in the first half, Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue', with Yaron Gottfried as pianist.

These two works entered the repertoire of symphony orchestras a long time ago, and on the face of it, their choice shows no innovation or orchestral uniqueness. The programme opens in first half with the start of Bernstein's Prelude. The metal wind instruments sounded as though they could have done with another rehearsal. In the Gershwin piece however, both the orchestra and pianist Gottfried played exceptionally well. Two soloist singers, soprano Alison Buchanan and baritone Leonard Rowe, exploited Gottfried's pianistic talents, each singing, to his accompaniment, well-known blues hits by Gershwin like "They can't take that way from me" and "Someone will protect me" - a sort of appetizer for the second half.

In the best tradition of American theatrical musicals, the second half was the climax of the evening. The two African-American guests, Buchanan, of English descent, and Rowe, of American descent, are opera singers who were given carte blanche to entertain that evening, and did so to the maximum. They spoke briefly before each song, about the music and about bringing people together. It's amazing to realize that when most of these musicals were written and sung for the first time. Black singers were not allowed to appear on the stages of Broadway's professional theatres

Without a doubt the orchestra and its conductor Yaron Gottfried extracted the best of the music of Richard Rogers:' "The King and I", "South Pacific", "Oklahoma" and of Jerome Kern's "Show Boat'" and Frederick Lowe's "My Fair Lady".

This part of the programme reminded me of "Tizmoret HaBidur", the symphony orchestra that acted as part of Kol Yisrael in the 60s, which devoted itself entirely to the glory of light classical music or light music. Listening to a musical with a symphony orchestra and not an ad-hoc grouping available to producer A or B at a certain moment is an experience that has been denied us for years, and this evening only strengthened the feeling of absence.

In the fifth concert series "From Broadway to Hollywood" the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra provides the audience with an item that has long disappeared from the musical menu in Israel. For this it deserves to be complimented and congratulated. Be sure not to miss it!

The Israel Kibbutz Orchestra, Fifth Concert Series: From Broadway to Hollywood, Tel Aviv Art Museum.

Yossi Schiffman "Habama, 21 Feb. ,2008

   The Kibbutzim Celebrate Bach

The members of the Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra played Bach yesterday… as though all their lives they had played Baroque music on period instruments, as if they had been born in the days of Bach himself. They played naturally, almost nonchalantly, playing the composer's secular music from the days of his service at the court of the Prince in the town of Coethen. Although the IKO deserves much credit, the lion's share of this achievement, goes to the conductor Shalev Ad-El. An Israeli who works in the heart of the historic style in performing old music, Ad-El brought all the marked characteristics of this style with him to the orchestra, especially the direct relationship, devoid of sentimentality and preening towards Bach and the composers of his time.

It was a pleasure to observe the link between the conductor and the orchestra, and to be present during the metamorphosis the players underwent under his baton. Ad-El is one of those conductors who knows how to retreat as far as possible from the beam of the floodlights. True, his presence is imposing, but he never attracts attention. His inner concealed urgency was only exposed when the orchestra moved to a more relaxed mode.

The orchestra also displayed excellent soloists from its ranks: in the solo functions in the fifth Brandenburg Concerto, the wonderful violinist Ella Vaolin stood out - and in the arias of the"Wedding Cantata" for Soprano and orchestra (No. 202) almost everyone, - obbligato accompaniment, faggot, oboe and violin -was outstanding. The soprano Cornelia Samuelis sang nicely, the wood instruments and violin were delightful, and the audience did not want the artists to leave the platform - quite rightly so!

Noam Ben Zeev, "Ha'aretz", 22 April ,2007


The Israel Kibbutz Orchestra Plays Bach

What a lovely surprise! During its recent Brandenburg Marathon concert series, the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra sounded as I have never heard it before: precise, graceful, soft and rich in style, exactly like a professional Baroque orchestra. Most of the credit goes to Shalev Ad-El, Israeli director and cembalist who has lived abroad for many years. Ad-El is regarded as a world authority on the performance of baroque music, and reaches Israel only infrequently. This time he came not only as soloist, but also conductor, accompanied by a selected group of players from the orchestra. The result, as mentioned, was a really positive surprise.

The program included three of Bach's Brandenburg Concerti (numbers 1, 3 and 5) each using a different group of soloists. The IKO players showed that they have a quality rare among players of other orchestras: stylistic flexibility. They made an effort to provide Ad-El with "an extra mile", playing Bach's complex music with a warm tone, free of any pressure. The same applies to the outstanding soloists, all of whom are from the orchestra.

Also appearing in the concert was the German singer Cornelia Samuelis, with the famous "Wedding Cantata" and the aria from Cantata 32. Samuelis has a lovely, rich voice - but I found myself enjoying the instrumental works far more. A great concert/

Published on 22 April in the features section of Globes.

Omer Shomroni, "Globs", 23 April ,2007

   A Modern and Daring Bach

The Israel Kibbutz Orchestra's players are accustomed to jumping from one style to another and from one musical reality to the next. The combinations that Musical Director Yaron Gottfried has organized for it over the past few seasons have influenced it to maintain quality and freshness. This has been demonstrated once again in the present series of six concerts, all works by Johann Christian Bach.

Shalev Ad-El a prominent Israeli cembalist who spends most of his year traveling and performing in Europe and North America, is a hostage to quality when it comes to Bach. This feeling becomes stronger on every one of his visits to Israel. This time, for example, the cadence that he played at the end of the first part of the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto was - in my opinion - the highlight of the evening. On the volcanic slopes of the sound that emerged and flowed from the cembalo, Ad-El proved his great artistry. His "Bach", though still exuding much tradition, sounded modern and daring. How does this happen? You yourself will need to listen to his playing during the orchestra's remaining concerts.

In the effort he put into the IKO, Ad-El established a body of outstanding soloists within the orchestra. They created the feeling of a Concerto Grosso, together with other soloists: the violinists Ella Vaolin, Gilad Hildsheim, and Hila Tzabari Peleg, who on this occasion played the oboe, the bassoonist, Ilinoy Yogev and the oboist Miki Lam.

Perhaps most important was the contribution of Shalev Ad-El himself, who conducting from the keyboard, extracted the best from the other players. The IKO sounded to all intents and purposes like a true baroque ensemble.

On concluding a critique, it is important to emphasize that the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra always surprises, and has become an orchestra "for all times and seasons", in the most positive meanings of these expressions.

Yossi Schiffman, Bama, April 2006

   "White-Black Music"

One cannot help but recall the musical version of "Porgy and Bess", whose production was based on an opera of the same name, composed in 1935 by the legendary George Gershwin: the story of a black community in a small fishing village.
...The guest Afro-American singers, Alison Buchanan (Soprano) and Leonard Rowe (Baritone) did their best to bestow a befitting tone and color to the musical message. Rowe, in addition to his voice, was particularly successful, knowing how to integrate characteristic movement on the stage, which in turn added intensity to the parts he performed.
...Of all pieces, that by American composer Edward Alexander MacDowell (1860-1908), presumably unknown to the majority of readers, was performed with passion. In Orchestral Suite No.2, "The Indian", the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra, conducted by its (wonderful) musical manager, Yaron Gottfried, once again proved its worth. It was a meticulous technical execution, clear-cut and pleasant. At the end of the concert, the audience, which packed the auditorium, demanded repeated encores from the participants - the conductor, the orchestra, the soloists and the vocal ensemble.

Arik Bashan, HaKibbutz Newspaper, 19 January 2007.

   Porgy Stole the Show

I've always had some misgivings about concert productions of operas because the composer usually takes into account the staging of the plot, - something that gets lost in a concert performance. Despite this reservation, I thoroughly enjoyed the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra's performance of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess and that of the accompanying participants. The only major disadvantage of the Vocal Jazz Ensemble of the Rimon school was that they are not Afro-Americans.In spite of this they sang excellently.
In my opinion the baritone, Leonard Rowe, who sang all the male roles, not only that of Porgy. stole the show. Firstly, he sang beautifully, he is a stage animal. In addition, he is also an actor, but most importantly: his performance on the stage was exactly what this work demands.
The two gospels sung by the Rimon group were too slow, and the MacDowell suite was too 'sweet.' It seemed to resemble the sound track of a Western movie, but I noticed that the composer died in the first decade of the twentieth century!
In short: a wonderful concert!

David Ori, The Kibbutz Newspaper, 19 January 2007

   Simply wonderful!

An Exciting Start for the Festival in Abu Gosh

The opening of the 30th festival of vocal music in Abu Gosh with the participation of the Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra, the Philharmonia Choir and soloists. Gal James, Edna Prochnik, Humberto Ayrbe Pino. Conductor: Yaron Gottfried.
Conductor Yaron Gottfried could not possibly have wished for a better gift for his 38th birthday. Not only did he choose two amazingly beautiful compositions (the "Stabat Maters of Rheinberger and Rossini); he was also privileged to participate in their performances - both warm and sensitive, while emphasizing sorrow and spiritual grief. These two versions of the Stabat Mater ("At the cross her station keeping, stood the mournful mother weeping") make natural partners for performance.
The Philharmonia Choir rightly deserves the praise it received for its clear and heart- rendering singing of the 'nearly romantic' version by Rheinberger. The encore of the choir was a serene piece by Rossini ("When my body ceases, give my soul the glory of heaven.") that radiated sanctity. There is no place better than the Great Church Hall of Abu Gosh for the realization of choral beauty
Rossini wrote, in effect, a religious opera about the suffering of the mother whose son was crucified. For this performance four excellent soloists were enlisted and I was very proud of the fact that three of them were Israelis: Jill James, a musical superlative, who excelled in the rendition of her aria, Edna Prochnik whose alto is warm and sensuous, and the bass Noah Brigger, whose rendering of the aria was outstanding. (The tenor, too, impressed the audience, despite the fact the his voice was somewhat forced).
After a full-house performance such as this, one emerged intoxicated and totally excited. The achievements of the Israeli musicians do the soul an enormous amount of good.
What a wonderful opening of the festival and also an impressive achievement of the Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra.

Orah Binur, Ma'ariv, 12/11/06

   Rossini Brings Out the Best!

. From the very beginning of the concert the artistic capabilities of the Philharmonia Singers, performing a little-known work by Josef Gabriel Reinberger, were clearly apparent. Moreover the expectation that the choir would do its very best in the evening's highlight, the "Stabat Mater" by Gioacchino Rossini, was inevitable.
Reinberger's composition, created some 50 years after that of Rossin,i and based on the same liturgical "Stabat Mater" text, was written in the conventional style of light classical opera, and is easy for the listener to understand and appreciate. It is pleasant, with a delicate orchestral accompaniment that the orchestra's string section performed competently and empathetically.
The next item took us back to the beginning of the 19th century with a short and lively work for solo oboe and orchestra by Johann Nepomuk Hummel.
The outstanding performance of Rossini's "Stabat Mater" can be attributed to the excellence of the choir and the soloists, Jill James, Edna Prochnik, and the bass Noah Brigger. The guest solo tenor has a strong voice but his approach was coarse and lacked sensitivity. The superb voice quality and exquisite musicality of the Israeli soloists demonstrated that they are of international stature.
The performance could have achieved an even higher level had the use of vibrato and operatic voice production been more restrained. As stated previously, the singers were well prepared and sang with sensitivity. Moments in the closing section of the Stabat Mater, "Quando corpus morietur" (While my body here decays), were haunting.
This concert was a significant accomplishment for the conductor, Yaron Gottfried, who led the entire production. Repeat performances will be given at several venues in Israel. For those who missed the opening, it's worthwhile booking tickets!

Hagai Chitron, Ha'aretz, 8/10/2006

   "… Magic! Believe it!"

Please welcome the Cinderella of orchestras! What a surprise! Suddenly a small orchestra is founded, the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra, and raises its head proudly. Classical combines with ethnic and folkloristic in one concert. Believe it! This is a winning formula: the 'culprit' is Yaron Gottfried, the young Music Director and principal Conductor of the orchestra. He approached a young audience and made magic: mixing Bach with folklore, Mozart and Tango, Mendelssohn and the accordion - all in one blender - until a vibrant musical beverage was reached.

Chanoch Ron - Yedi'ot Aharonot, 24.6.05

   "Bach's Mass, performed by the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra, conducted by Yaron Gottfried, and the Potsdam Choir, received a stylized and energetic rendition, and this was a musical challenge that brought pleasure and excitement."

Ora Binur - "Ma'ariv", 26.10.05

   "The Israel Kibbutz Orchestra has become a star in recent years: it has an audience that fills halls, applauds and demands encores. It knows how to imbibe its concerts with festivity, a kind of uniqueness that speaks to the audience… The excitement was immense."

Noam Ben Zeev - "Ha'aretz, 7.7.05

  A Soda-Pop Drink

The Israel Kibbutz Orchestra offers several musical highlights In its forthcoming season

What a surprise! Here comes a small orchestra, the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra, raises its head proudly and dares to mock all its friends. The Kibbutz Orchestra presents a wonderful new season: the song of angels of Bach and Mozart meets World Music. The classical coincides with the ethnic and folklore in one concert. Believe it! Please welcome the Cinderella of orchestras.
A Winning Formula: the person to "blame" for this is Yaron Gottfried, the orchestra's young Chief Conductor. Several years ago he received an orchestra that was falling apart, which he erected from scratch. How? Simply by turning to a young audience and making magic; he mixed Bach with folklore, Mozart with Tango, Mendelssohn with accordion. All in one blender - until he got a musical soda-pop drink. And in the forthcoming season there is even more.
Angels' Song: The opening of the season belongs to Bach - in his Great Mass in B minor, with the Potsdam Chamber Choir from Germany. Another concert this season will, of course, be dedicated to Mozart, in his Great Mass in C major. Who can forego these two vocal Everest peaks?
The Beautiful Ethnic: A concert consisting entirely of "Northern Lights" - magnificent works by Grieg and Sibelius embrace Norwegian folk music, with a string ensemble from Norway, all in one concert. And there is also a concert of "Spanish Nights", with De Falla's "Three Cornered Hat" and a work by the Spanish Salvador Brotons (who will also conduct), "Fusion". All these joined together with Spanish and Jewish music from the Middle Ages. Imagine Ibn Gabirol, Yehuda Halevi, et al, on early instruments. How intriguing!
The Great Virtuosi: Karl-Heinz Steffens, Principal Clarinet of the Berlin Philharmonic, considered one of the world's greatest clarinetists today, will present an out-of-this-world program - Mozart's moving Concerto and standards for clarinet and orchestra by Benny Goodman. The dessert will be Schubert's wonderful "Tragic" Symphony. Another concert will host Richard Galliano from France, the greatest accordionist in the world. The program includes works by Ginastera, Ravel, Piazzolla and Galliano himself. One can expect great pleasure!
Music and Dance: Here awaits a multi-media concert - Handel's "Water Music", the festive Baroque work, which will be performed with dance on stage choreographed by Noa Dar. There will also be additional enchanting music in Faur?'s "Pelleas et Melisande".
Israeli Works: The Israel Kibbutz Orchestra proves that it belongs to here-and-now and gives an honorable place to original works. Its programs this season include premieres of works by Leor Navok, Yaron Gottfried and Haim Permont. Don't be afraid of the "moderna". These are not loud and noisy works. They are contemporary, albeit communicative.
The Bottom Line: Don't wait - go and buy tickets!

Chanoch Ron,"7 NIGHTS" - Yedi'ot Aharonot, 24.6.05

  "Three Magnificats"

"The Israel Kibbutz Orchestra with the Tel-Aviv Chamber Choir.
Works by Victoria, Pergolesi and Avia Kopelman.
Tel Aviv Museum of the Arts. Conductor: Michael Shani.

"The Israel Kibbutz Orchestra has become a star in the past years: it has audiences that fill the halls, applaud and demand encores - which they receive; and it always knows how to pour some festivity into its concerts, in a kind of uniqueness that speaks to the hearts of this audience. Yesterday, for instance, it identified the great fondness - albeit somewhat bizarre, one should add - of the Israeli audience for the Catholic "Stabat Mater" and "Magnificat", and performed three Magnificats, with a large choir and a conductor with charismatic presence. It worked, and the excitement was tremendous…"

Noam Ben Zeev, "Ha'aretz", 7.7.05

  "The concerts of The Israel Kibbutz Orchestra are lively, the programs authentic and not meant to placate audiences, and the performers are outstanding!
The large audience that frequents these concerts is proof not only of the popularity of such colorful programming, but especially of the pleasing way in which it is presented."

Noam Ben Zeev, "Ha'aretz", 18.5.05

  "The Israel Kibbutz Orchestra brings a vigorous and fresh spirit to the conservative concert hall.
The players' enthusiasm, combined with its innovative programs, creates a rich and enjoyable concert."

Ora Binur, "Ma'ariv", 28.3.05

   "Yaron Gottfried paid his dues. When he was appointed Artistic Director of the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra, he declared his commitment to bring the listeners closer to the orchestra, to transcend colorful lines and to think differently about the traditions of a classical concert. These qualities are usually materialized by gratifying the audience and the inevitable failure that follows. However, Gottfried also committed to not lowering the artistic level and not to obtain such accomplishments with shallowness of content and thought.
Last night, before an audience that filled the Tel Aviv Museum and overflowed into the stairways and aisles, he showed how it is possible to have it both ways: to play on a high level without compromises and to please the audience!"

Noam Ben Zeev, "Ha'aretz", 7.3.04