Across the United States, the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra entertains music lovers under its new conductor sabra born Lahav Shani.
Because of COVID cancellations, many prior orchestrations had to be sadly postponed.
On November 5, 2022, at CSUN’s Soraya auditorium, they performed “Titan” – Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 1. The two-hour program also included several other wonderful pieces. Among the others welcoming the guests were the Counsel General of Israel, the American Jewish Council of Los Angeles, American Friends of the Israeli Philharmonic, Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, and the Jewish Federation of LA.
This is the first Mahler symphony ever to be played here. The hesitant opening first notes with the distant French horns and echoing woodwind culminate in the hour-long journey with elated final beats. The exceptions acoustics made the Soraya an excellent choice for them, but they also played in several other places in the Los Angeles area.
Born in Tel Aviv, Lahav Shani is the son of musical parents. Also an excellent concert pianist, he took up the post as the musical director in April 2022 after Zubin Mehta’s retirement. Shani, now at the head of the IP, especially crafted the music for this, his first American tour. After winning first prize at the Gustav Mahler International Conducting Competition in 2013, he became the youngest Chief Conductor at the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and then the Principal Guest Conductor at the Vienna Symphony Orchestra as well traveling to many other famous locations – Boston, Philadelphia, Berlin, Budapest, London, Zurich, Paris, and many others. Under the baton of Zubin Meta, he performed Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concert in the Far East, then became assistant conductor of the Israeli Philharmonic. He regularly appears at the Verbier Festival, Aix-en-Provence Easter, and the Jerusalem Chamber Music Festivals.
The Israel Philharmonic, first called the Palestine Symphony Orchestra, was founded in 1936 by Bonislaw Huberman and played its initial performance on December 26, 1936. The conductor then was Arturo Toscanini. Now it has subscription events throughout Israel as well as various concert series and tours of numerous global cultural centers and prestigious festivals. Many of Israel’s new immigrants, escaping persecution and settling in the Holy Land, have been integrated as part of the orchestral group. Encouraging young talents from all over, they use many from abroad, as well, and sponsor an outreach program, too.
In addition to Mahler’s music, Shani conducted the first symphony by another Jewish composer Paul Ben-Haim. Ben-Haim had fled Germany for Palestine in 1936 and his composition was the first ever to be performed by the new Palestine Symphony Orchestra. It was also the first to be written in the soon to be newly created Israel. Ironically, it was also played on the day that the Nazis rolled into France.
Other places they will be entertaining is Miami, Cleveland, and New York’s Carnegie Hall. Tickets ranged from $85 to $1,500 – with the higher priced ones included a sumptuous dinner after the performance. For more information about future events contact the American Friends of the Israeli Philharmonic.