Israel Philharmonic postpones season but continues to make music

Jan 3, 2024 | Article, Newsletter

During Hanukkah, a celebration of light amidst the darkness, the Israel Philharmonic served as a beacon of light for Israeli civilians during difficult and uncertain times. Following the horrific Hamas attacks on October 7 and the postponement of the Israel Philharmonic’s 87th season, the orchestra immediately pivoted its efforts toward helping affected citizens and their country.

Special performances

The Philharmonic has been performing around the country, in trio and quartet groups, for evacuees, especially children, and wounded citizens.

In one especially moving performance, at Soroka Medical Center, musicians played for Avida Bachar, a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri who survived the attack but suffered a leg amputation and lost his wife and son.

A special concert, “Salute to Israel,” was broadcast live on Oct. 22 in an empty hall with only the images of all hostages “watching” the musicians from the seats in the first rows. The concert has received more than 150,000 views in Israel and around the world. The musicians performed Israel’s national anthem, Paul Ben-Haim’s “Fanfare to Israel,” and Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony, “Eroica.”

“I ask myself, how is it possible to contain both this sense of distress and anguish alongside hope and yearning for life?” said Music Director Lahav Shani. “In our daily life, this seems almost impossible. The grief and anger are so strong that it is difficult to feel anything else. But it is at these moments that music has incredible strength. Music can contain and reflect all our feelings, side by side.”

Members of the Israel Philharmonic also entertained families who had been evacuated to hotels after Oct. 7

On the balcony of the Charles Bronfman Auditorium, the Israel Phil’s concert hall in Tel Aviv, 239 mannequins are now on display with an illuminated sign that reads, “BRING THEM HOME”. The exhibit, crafted by artist Nadav Barnea, symbolizes the 239 hostages taken by Hamas.

Even though a musician’s hands are their livelihood, philharmonic members did not hesitate to volunteer for time-sensitive harvesting work, supporting the farmers who were drafted. Instead of holding million-dollar instruments, they held tomatoes and avocadoes, to keep the economy going.