The audience had chairs and cushion seats arranged along the rocks in a semi-circle facing the stage. There were even some seats located in little alcoves carved into the rock face.
On either side of the stage the huge stones were engraved from bottom to top, and illuminated with a soft blue light. It was beautiful and practical--the back stage and entry and exit points for the performers were between these rocks!expectantly, when suddenly there was a faint, soft sound of music, but we were unable to see anything on the stage...finally, in the center aisle we noticed a lone clarinetist. Maestro Giora Friedman began his premier perfermance, and the Jerusalem String Ensemble conducted by Prof. Ilan Schul, gently joined in. Drawing the audience into his performance, he slowly made his way to the stage where he stood on the bottom step, motioning for everyone to joint in. With the audience humming and softly singing to his "Prayer" improvisation he mounted the steps--the concert had begun!
Of the highlights
we were treated to, one of my favorites was Hila Ofek's Harp Solo, Jerusalem of Gold by Naomi Shomer. Of course, like all concerts there are the intros, bows, and general speech-making--no exceptions here. What was so enjoyable was the diverse blend of musicians--young and old, secular and religious, male and female--all very talented and clearly all loved what they were doing.
MC, Benny Hendel delighted the audience with an impromtu solo!
Guests from abroad added to the delight of the evening. From Paris, Prof. Philippe Cuper gave a beautiful solo with only a pianist to accompany him. Next from Spain came Maestro Raul Jaurena who played a Klezmer Tango on th Bandoneon, an instrument that I hadn't known the correct name for, but which we used to refer to as a "squeeze-box", kind of like an accordian, but without keys--just buttons on both sides. We were treated to a rousing performance and the audience was clearly loving it!
Throughout the evening the audience clapped in time, hummed, and generally enjoyed themselves. Sitting in the warm evening air, amongst the old stones, with the stars overhead creating a fantasy-like scenario, we were all drawn together in a single moment in time. The finale brought all the musicians back, and once again the audience were drawn into the performance singing and swaying. I had a good time and really felt priviledged to be there--it was truly a night to remember!