If one follows the general media coverage of Israel, one could conclude that the country consists only of soldiers, terrorist attacks and the eternal conflict with the Palestinians. But anyone who actually is there can convince himself that this is far from the truth.
The Israeli culture is diverse, rich and beautiful – as are the people who shape it. Recently, I was invited to visit a very special concert, a concert in honor of the Jews of Monastir-Bitola, who were killed in the Holocaust. Israel has a rich culture of remembrance and public events are oftentimes dedicated to the memory of a beloved person or group of people.
Hope and light in the face of the terrible
Efrat-Rachel Gerlich, a trained musician and composer, wants to bring joy and life, hope and light with her exceptionally creative and beautiful compositions. Through her music, she wants to express that in the face of the terrible things human nature is able to do, “God is good, and faithful,” and that “he can raise from the death, like the State of Israel”. With this she means that after 2000 years the land belongs to the Jewish people again, as she explains later.
Especially to Holocaust survivors she wants to bring joy through her music, this is her vision. But other feelings are expressed in her pieces as well – during the first part of the concert mainly songs that processed the horrors of that time were played.
Later, Yael Unna talked on behalf of the “second generation” – children of survivors of the Holocaust – and about Jewish immigrants from Macedonia. Then the first part of the evening concluded with a masterful, 17-minute Fantasia Concertante, written by Efrat and played by the Jerusalem Street Orchestra.
During the second part of the concert, predominantly light and entertaining tunes were performed by different artists, like Ido Shirom, who played a wonderful piano solo. Two Macedonian folk songs, arranged by Efrat Gerlich, were accompanied by her with the accordion. At the very end, Mozart’s “Kleine Nachtmusik” formed the highlight of this special evening.
Bringing music to the street
After the concert, I was able to catch a short conversation with Asher, who I estimate to be in her mid-20s. She played one of the two Cellos of the Jerusalem Street Orchestra, which at the end of the concert – as icing on the cake, so to speak – presented Mozart’s “Kleine Nachtmusik” in the most outstanding way. In my ears it sounded better than any professional recording: more lively, more original, not so technical.
She told me that the orchestra’s vision is to bring music to the streets. They have played in zoos, parks and public places: “Classical music should not just be played in concert halls,” she says – and I can only agree with her.
Cover Image: Efrat-Rachel Gerlich conducts the Halleluhu Vocal Ensemble
with Efrat-Rachel Gerlich on her compositions and the concert evening in honor of the Jews of Monastir-Bitola, who were killed in the Holocaust:
Recordings from the concert
Excerpts from the musical pieces
Impressions of the evening