Annual Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival


The Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival returns this week to Jerusalem’s YMCA with beloved quintessential and famous works, as well as rare, lesser-known pieces – all performed by top musicians who hail from around the world.

Pianist Elena Bashkirova, founder and artistic music director of the five-day festival since its inception 26 years ago, is dedicating this year’s program to composers who, throughout history, emigrated, or traveled between cultures, speaking the universal language of music. 

Musicians often traveled to other countries seeking work or inspiration; many others were forced to leave their homelands because of antisemitism or political persecution. These artists combined their own musical heritage with the music of their adopted countries; in many cases, the results were new and significant musical expressions.

Dedicated to those who had to flee their homes

“In this festival’s program, cherished composers such as Mahler, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Rachmaninoff, Korngold, and others, found shelter in the US, flourished in Hollywood, and contributed considerably to the developing American music school,” Bashkirova said.

The program also focuses on the creations of Bloch, Bartok, and Dvorák, who left their homes looking for stability elsewhere; and famous works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Schuman, who traveled to the cultural and musical centers of their era.

CLARA-JUMI KANG (credit: Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival)

Moving to other cultures, whether by choice or because they had to run for their lives in search of freedom, in many cases resulted in the creation of new musical formats, such as the “Hungarian Dances” by Brahms, a set of 21 tunes based primarily on Hungarian musical elements.

One of the highlights of the festival will be the performance of “The Boy’s Magic Horn” (“Des Knaben Wunderhorn”), a collection of old German songs edited by poets from the Romantic era and composed by Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, and others. Austrian baritone Georg Nigl, with Bashkirova at the piano, will perform Mahler’s version. Mahler was especially fond of this collection, which he started composing in his twenties.

Among the international musicians who will play in this year’s festival are violinist Renaud Capucon, who will participate in several concerts with different partners; Bashkirova; violinist Clara-Jumi Kang; cellist Ivan Karizna; soprano Dorothea Roschmann; pianist Sunwook Kim; and violinists Marc Bouchkov and Rainer Honeck.

“In this celebration of extraordinary creations, beloved musicians and emerging fresh talents will get together to present a variegated and inspiring program that promises to be an unforgettable experience,” Bashkirova said. 

“This year’s festival will include the best of the chamber music repertoire, performed by many of our wonderful musicians, who are always happy to return to Jerusalem,” she added. “Joining them are a few new amazing young musicians, who will combine famous and loved masterpieces with intriguing works that are rarely performed.”

The Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival will take place September 5-9. Tickets range from NIS 60 to NIS170; to order, and for more information, contact (02) 625-0444 or jcmf.pres.global/order.

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