Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Grateful and Gracious

The husband of a friend of ours is ill and in hospital. They have a subscription to the Israel Symphony, but with her husband ill, they are not able to use it. Even under the circumstances, my friends wanted to make sure the tickets didn't go to waste and that somebody was able to enjoy last night's concert in their place.

Due to their generosity and incredible thoughtfulness, we were able to have a fantastic experience last night. It was an evening of Tchaikovsky and Holst. I love Tchaikovsky, and Morey loves "The Planets" so it was a perfect match.

Some observations:

We never would have been able to experience if my friend wasn't so considerate. Sitting with her husband in a hospital room, she thinks of others.

We were doubly blessed - not only did we get to see a fantastic performance of the Israel Symphony Orchestra, the Tchaikovsky was performed by a mind-blowing 22-year-old prodigy named Daniil Trifonov. His fingers were like rubber spider legs; long, thin and moved like lightning (his whole body was long and thin, sort of stretched. He reminded me of Jack). His passion, timing and interpretation were brilliant. It was a true pleasure to witness. He was also the most gracious star performer I've ever seen: he hugged the conductor, shook hand with the first chair violin, bowed to the orchestra and only then did he turn to the audience and take his bow. And come back for an encore!

Which leads me to my next observation. Orchestral encores? I've never seen this, but within seconds, this very knowledgeable audience (every concert I've ever been to, there's always at least one person who is a first-timer and starts to applaud at the end of the first movement. Not one mis-timed clap in the bunch last night) started clapping as if at a rock concert - not applause, but clapping in unison. Trifonov came out for a few more bows, and then eventually sat down and played a cute little Chopin.

After the intermission, the full orchestra came on for The Planets. Throughout the Tchaikovsky piece (Concerto No. 1 for piano and orchestra in B-flat minor, Op. 23, for those who are wondering), I was observing the wonderful mosaic of the orchestra. There were older, stately men and women, a young woman with wildy violet hair, a male French horn player with gorgeous long, wavy hair. Blondes, brunettes, long, short, old, young, even an Asian violinist (which would not be at all unusual in any concert in the US, but she stood out here). We were wonderfully surprised to see not one, but two very obviously charedi musicians, long beards, black kippas and all. One was first chair cello (and magnificent. And for those who know him, the cellist reminded very much of Rabbi Dubrowsky z"l).

(And for the record, there were female musicians wearing pants, sleeveless outfits, and one of the movements has a female chorus. These two men did not get up and leave, fyi.)

This, by the way, is why I get upset when people say THE Charedi. Just like all Jews are not the same and do not believe exactly the same, so all Charedim are not the same. Obviously.

The conductor, Dan Ettinger, was probably the most calm, understated conductor I've ever seen. Morey gave names to some of his moves, one of which was a side-to-side sway ("rock the boat"). The other one isn't, erm, suitable for a family blog.

The concert was in Rishon LeZion, not in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. High-calibre arts can be enjoyed all over this country. It probably doesn't hurt that a lot of the musicians are Russian ;) but there are plenty of very Israel names in the bunch.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable evening, 20 minutes away, courtesy of two very big-hearted people. We are grateful.

Please daven for a complete and speedy healing for Avraham ben Ida.