Israel Philharmonic: We are worried about the future of our country

Israel Philharmonic: We are worried about the future of our country


norman lebrecht

March 19, 2023

From our special correspondent in Tel Aviv, Dan Yakir, Chief Legal Counsel of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI):

During the past 13 weeks massive nationwide demonstrations of about 250,000 protesters flood the streets of Israel every Saturday evening to protest against the legal revolution advanced by the Netanyahu government. The central demonstration takes place in Tel Aviv in streets very close to the important cultural institutions of Israel: on the one side Habima National Theatre and the Charles Bronfman Auditorium (home of the Israel Philharmonic) at Culture square and on the other side the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv and the Israel Opera at the Center for the Performing Arts. Saturday evening is the most busy evening for cultural events and the demonstrations pose a dilemma: part of the audience prefer to demonstrate instead of attending the performances; those who want to attend find it difficult because many of the streets leading to the halls are blocked. On top of that all those institutions are heavily funded by the Ministry of Culture and they ask themselves if and how to address the issue.

The Cameri Theatre decided to stay dark on Saturday. On Friday The Israel Opera held the first performance of the revival of Don Giovanni (a coproduction with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden). Before the performance started an ad was screened advertising the next production: Theodor, a world premier of an Israeli opera by Yonatan Cnaan about Theodor Herzl, the founding father of the Zionist movement and of the vision of establishing the State of Israel. As if connected they went on to screen the Declaration of Independence highlighting one paragraph:

“THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

The reference to current day issues did not escape the audience who responded with loud applause.

Before starting the subscription concert of the Israel Philharmonic on Saturday evening Lahav Shani, the music director, asked the orchestra to rise and addressed the audience: “We know you came to hear music and we will shortly play the program as planned but we can’t ignore the voices from outside. We are worried about the future of our country. Israeli democracy is a miracle. So is our cultural life and we can’t lose what was built here. We are worried but I hope that a solution and unity will be found shortly.” Then unexpectedly the huge orchestra that was assembled for Prokofiev’s Scythian Suite played the national anthem “Hatikva” (hope). All the audience stood up and sang a long and at the end gave the orchestra a standing ovation. There were very few voices of protest.

The soloist of the concert was the Spanish pianist Juan Pérez Floristán (winnner of the 2021 Arthur Rubinstein Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv). After a virtuosic performance of Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini he played as an encore the cantabile from Musica Ricercata by György Ligeti. Nodding to the demonstration outside he expressed the hope that it will bring some peace and harmony.


  • anon says:

    Bit late getting worried about it now. You can’t base your country on freedom, justice and peace when you’ve decided to build it on someone else’s land against their will.

    • Helen Kamioner says:

      tsk, tsk, what a laughable, insipid, uneducated comment

    • Azzam Nabil says:

      Bravo anon (above.) not only build on their land against their will but also uproot them from their homes and harass them daily let alone terrorizing them in their beds every night; father, mother, boys and girls of all ages….

    • R.Minc says:

      Why is the above writer anonymous ? You need to take responsibility for your comments and actions !!!
      Your comment is not based on facts- if you’re talking about the origins of land ownership , read the history of the area. Furthermore, do you know any country who won a war gave back the land they acquired .
      Look into what the leaders of the people to whom you are referring have done ,& are doing , with the billions of dollars they get to build & provide these “displaced” people .

  • Mr. Ron says:

    Real democracy is in trouble everywhere.

  • Robin Blick says:


  • Helen Kamioner says:

    SUNDAY, MARCH 26, 2023 AT 1 PM EDT
    שידור בכורה: להב שני מנצח על פטרושקה Premiere Broadcast: Lahav Shani conducts Petrushka |
    Facebook Live

  • Helen Kamioner says:

    ‘In 1994, I gave concerts with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich. The orchestra could now also be called the Russian Philharmonic, since most of the musicians came from the territory of the former Soviet Union – which has a very beneficial effect on the artistic level.’ Georg Solti.

  • Helen Kamioner says:

    Israeli Arabs have equal rights under Israeli law, while Palestinians are governed by the Palestinian Authority & Hamas in the West Bank & Gaza, respectively, neither of which are democratic.

  • Westfan says:

    The issue is Netanyahu. Get rid of the crook before he installs himself as permanent “Benevolent Leader.”