The opening of the Israel Philharmonic’s 87th season was delayed due to the war in Gaza, but the orchestra quickly pivoted, performing in trios and quartets for evacuated families from Gaza border communities and northern towns, and for those who were injured and hospitalized.
At times they even put down their instruments and spent time picking avocados and tomatoes for farmers in need.
In one moving performance, horn player Hagai Shalom played the haunting sounds of “Oseh Shalom,” the familiar prayer for peace and unity, in the dark and empty Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv.
And on October 22, the orchestra gathered together for a live broadcast concert, playing to the faces of the hostages, their photos placed on the front row seats.
Maestro Lahav Shani spoke to viewers during the broadcast, reminding them of the Philharmonic’s history, founded in 1936 as many Jewish musicians faced rising discrimination and antisemitism in Europe.
The musicians performed HaTikva, Paul Ben-Haim’s “Fanfare to Israel” and Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony, “Eroica.”
A beacon of hope in the dark. Horn player Hagai Shalom plays “Oseh Shalom,” or “He Who Makes Peace,” a prayer for peace and unity for the Jewish people, in the empty Charles Bronfman Auditorium. Join us in echoing the prayer by reciting the words below.He Who Makes Peace:May He who makes peace in his high places,May He make peace upon usAnd on all of Israel —And say, Amen.
Posted by American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra on Monday, October 23, 2023
Shani remarked on the fact that the Philharmonic has witnessed all the wars in Israel, and that it seems impossible to contain so much distress and anguish alongside the hope and yearning for life.
“It is at these moments that music has incredible strength,” said Shani.
Music can contain and reflect all the different feelings, side by side, he said, referring to the “tremendous emotional complexity” in Beethoven’s Eroica.
“In Beethoven, there is room for lament, grief and loss, alongside hope, heroism, inner strength and fortitude,” said Shani. “His message is one of brotherhood and solidarity. And solidarity is the source of our strength.”