Home / News / LocalRSS Feed
Israeli string ensemble to play Twerski music in Milwaukee
August 20th, 2004
When Israels internationally renowned King David String Ensemble gives its first Milwaukee performances next week, it wont only present music by great but deceased European composers like Edvard Grieg, Bela Bartok and Fryderyk Chopin.
It also will present some home-grown music by the very much alive Rabbi Michel Twerski of Congregation Beth Jehudah, arranged by the equally alive Jonathan Mordechai Leshnoff.
Moreover, for these works, the ensembles conductor, Anita Kamien, will yield the baton to Milwaukeean Joshua Richman, and the nine Russian-born-and-trained Israeli string players will be joined by some local wind instrument players and by Milwaukee baritone Joel Eckhardt.
All this will take place on Sunday, Aug. 22, 2 p.m., in the Helen Bader Concert Hall of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukees Zelazo Center. Admission is free, but contributions at the door are appreciated.
The ensemble also will play at the Rubenstein Pavillion in the Weinberg Jewish Terrace on Monday, Aug. 23 at 1:30 p.m. and hold a workshop/master class featuring students from the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra at 4 p.m. on the same day and in the same location.
It was Richman, organizer of the recent Season of Jewish Music in Milwaukee, who managed to bring the group here. And as he put it, This is another of those projects whose origin is a little murky.
In the upshot, Leshnoff was the connection. Richman had worked with him on a Milwaukee concert of Twerski music in 2002 and admired his work.
And Leshnoff got to know Anita Kamien and her well-known musicologist and pianist husband, Roger (who is also the author of one of the most widely used college music appreciation texts), when Roger gave a lecture at a Maryland university in early 2003.
At Leshnoffs suggestion, Anita Kamien and Richman began an e-mail correspondence about the possibility of the King David Ensemble playing in Milwaukee. To top it off, Kamien met Dan Bader of Milwaukees Helen Bader Foundation in Safed.
That was divine providence at work, confirmation from the heavens that this was meant to be, said Richman. Things got rolling from there.
The Bader Foundation and other local donors provided sponsorship for the Milwaukee concert, which is one stop in a concert tour going from Hawaii to Boston. And the ensemble readily agreed to Richmans suggestion that it include music by Twerski in Leshnoffs arrangements, as well as a Leshnoff composition on the program.
As Anita Kamien explained in a telephone interview from Hawaii, the King David String Ensemble itself is one of the musical fruits of the wave of Russian immigration that came to Israel in the early 1990s.
Among these immigrants were many professional instrumental musicians who at first couldnt find any audition opportunities in professional orchestras there.
So some of them, including most of the nine members of what is now the King David String Ensemble, at first played for the Hillel Hebrew University Symphony Orchestra, which Anita Kamien who with her husband immigrated to Israel from the United States in 1980 founded and conducts. As she put it, she thereby gave them their first musical home in Israel.
Eventually, these string players joined the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra; but they apparently were both musically and personally impressed with Kamien. For after they decided to create the King David String Ensemble in the late 1990s, they eventually decided they needed a conductor, and asked Kamien to take the post.
They wanted a leader and wanted somebody who had experience in the musical world in Israel and internationally, said Kamien. But the relationship goes beyond functionality. We enjoy playing together, we like each other, we enjoy traveling together and I enjoy being with them and it works.
In addition to the Twerski and Leshnoff works, the Aug. 22 program will include Griegs Holberg Suite, Bartoks Rumanian Dances and Chopins Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise brillante, both for piano and orchestra, with Roger Kamien at the piano.
For more information, call 414-243-4098.