Israel Philharmonic has a Mehta problem

Israel Philharmonic has a Mehta problem


norman lebrecht

April 27, 2018

Zubin Mehta’s prolonged recovery from surgery is creating uncertainty at the Israel Phil.

The orchestra has lost a China tour in June after the organisers rejected the incoming music director Lahav Shani as replacement.

Yoel Levi is taking over Mehta’s next subscription concerts, switching Bruckner 9 to 4 for some reason.

Wild rumours are raging in Asia over Mehta’s condition, but the conductor has told the orchestra he expected to return for Der Rosenkavalier in Tel Aviv before the present season ends.



  • Petros Linardos says:

    Why would they reject Lahav Shani?

    • Alexander Radziewski says:

      Maybe they hired Mehta and didn’t care about the orchestra. That’s the result of the hype of star conductors artists and s.o. The orchestra is regarded justcas an anonymous mass of servants.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        Sadly I agree.

        And yet I’d think that Lahav Shani has both talent and some hype going for him, not least because of his youth. Or is the cult of youth not so rampant in the East? I know they have traditionally revered the old, for their wisdom.

        • Rgiarola says:

          My sincerely compliments about your comments Linardos. Western world cannot see their own weakness, in this case how far goes the hype concerning younger musicians. Sounds like a business corporation giving the presidency of BOD to someone bright, but inexperienced at all. In the real world, it is pure craziness. In the pop music is a way to sell more. Classical music had been following pop culture market strategy in the last 15 years at least.

          • Alexander Radziewski says:

            Don’t forget that Lahav Shani is the very first Israeli music director of the IPO and is far away the highest talent with the greatest future.

        • Sue says:

          Just as an aside, Carlos Kleiber once referred to Mehta as “that thug”.:-)

      • Thomasina says:

        I guess (as a semi-Asian), the Israel phil-Metha relationship were too close and they felt unwilling to accept a substitute conductor who have not built a history with the orchestra yet (and the tickets are so expensive). For Asians Israel phil=Metha and to change this image, the way to Mr.Shani will be long, I think.

    • MacroV says:

      It tells you the brand value of the Israel Philharmonic (at least in China), as this surely wouldn’t happen with the Berlin Philharmonic or the Chicago Symphony.

  • Michael says:

    I recall a very tough fight with presenters in Asia when I told them that the Rotterdam Philharmonic’s new music director, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, would conduct a major tour rather than the previous music director, Valery Gergiev. The argument was protracted but in the end, Yannick conducted a very successful tour.

  • Reggie says:

    It’s all about money. I live in Tokyo and the Japan tour by Israeli Philharmonic under Mehta was similarly cancelled.

    As Petros correctly pointed out, we Asian tend to value old, matured, experienced, authoritative type of conductor, such as Blomstedt. Nevertheless, we also have an appetite for young growing star like Lang Lang. So after all, this is money matter.

    For Israeli PO, tickets range from, roughly, 100GBP~350GBP. If your are lucky, you may be able to buy 80GBP cheapest one.

    If replacement conductor Shani come to conduct NHK symphony, people would welcome him overwhelmingly because tickets range from 30~80GBP.

    If you pay more than hundred, it’s quite natural to prefer secure/safe, internationally well-known conductor to young novel one.

  • Uzi Shalev says:

    Let’s wish Maestro Mehta a fast recovery and the best of Health!!!
    We, at the Israel Philharmonic can’t wait to see him back at the podium for his scheduled concerts next July!!!

  • Nick2 says:

    It is well known that Japan’s concert agents always want a star name. It’s not a case of respect for an older conductor or soloist; much more that they believe they need a ‘star’ in order to sell tickets at high prices. Touring any orchestra as far as Japan represents a huge cost outlay. With few official subsidies and a reliance on sponsorship, It will take some time before the Israel Phil without Mehta will be marketable there, I think, no matter how good his young successor.

    I noticed the other day that Mehta is due to conduct Carmen with the San Carlo Opera in Bangkok in September. I did not know that Mehta had a relationship with that house. In any event it’s hardly an opera I would wish to see Mehta conducting.

  • Yara says:

    Mehta is the star forever!!!