16 November 2018 - 8 Kislev 5779 - ח' כסלו ה' אלפים תשע"ט
Arts & Culture
Hong Kong Bach Choir presents a tale of two anniversaries (with a Hong Kong twist) E-mail

In a banner year for musical anniversaries, the Hong Kong Bach Choir (HKBC) will focus on two of the most important anniversaries as it opens its 2018-19 season with music commemorating the lives of Leonard Bernstein and Gioachino Rossini – adding a post-modern bouquet of celebratory flowers by Hong Kong composer Ip Kimho – on 6 December at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall.

Bernstein was the protean genius of 20th-century music. Composer, conductor, pianist, educator and all-round cheerleader for music, he was among the best-selling performers of the post-war scene, his music bridging the divide between “serious” and “popular”. In this he was the ultimate successor to Rossini – the Duke Ellington, Elvis Presley and Andrew Lloyd Webber of his day, all rolled into one – whose operas brought elites and proletarians together in the theatre even as they fought revolutionary battles in the streets. In other words, Rossini was the 19th century’s Leonard Bernstein! (Bernstein’s popular Overture to Candide even mimics the form of Rossini’s opera overtures.)

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Bernstein’s birth and the 150th anniversary of Rossini’s death, the choir will present Bernstein’s beloved Chichester Psalms, commissioned by an Anglican cathedral in England but setting the original Hebrew texts from The Book of Psalms: a triumph of ecumenicism in the midst of the tumultuous 1960s and a mark of Bernstein’s ever-present Jewish consciousness.

Chichester Psalms is paired with Rossini’s final masterpiece, the Petite messe solennelle, which he composed as his ticket to Heaven. As he wrote on the final page of the manuscript, “Dear Lord, here it is, finished, this poor little mass... Blessings to you and grant me Paradise.” And no doubt he’s there now, listening with pleasure.

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Aki-No Festival brings Japanese cinema to Israel E-mail

The Aki-No Festival for Japanese Cinema has returned for a third year, and is running until 3 November at cinematheques in Holon, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sderot and Herzliya.

It features the best of contemporary Japanese cinema, which is currently in the midst of a renaissance, as Japanese films from every genre generate buzz and win awards at international festivals. This year’s event features nine films, some of which have been shown at the Cannes, Venice and Toronto film festivals.

The festival’s director is Alon Rosenblum, the director of the Holon Cinematheque, and the artistic director and curator is Roni Mahadav-Levin, manager of the Jerusalem Cinematheque. The festival is supported by the Embassy of Japan in Israel and the Japan Foundation.

The opening-night film on 22 October was Eric Khoo’s Ramen Shop, which tells the story of a young ramen chef who leaves Japan to explore his family’s history and the culinary delights of Singapore. When he meets his estranged grandmother, she tells him some stories and memories from the Japanese occupation of Singapore.

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6th International Rondalla Festival celebrates plucked-string instruments E-mail

More than 300 pluckedstring musicians from a host of countries, including Israel, are gathering in Silay City in the province of Negros Occidental, the Philippines, for the 6th annual International Rondalla Festival, which runs from 3 to 11 November.

The nine-day plucked-string festival, dubbed “Cuerdas Sang Paghili-usa” (Strings of Unity), is a collaborative undertaking of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts through the National Music Competitions for Young Artists Foundation and the Musicological Society of the Philippines. It has been held every three years since 2004, and is hosted by major cities in the Philippines and Taiwan.

Participating in the festival this year are musicians from Israel, China, India, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Uganda, Vietnam, France and the Philippines.

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