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Israel Camerata Jerusalem Move To Jerusalem's Landmark YMCA Building

There are plans for collaborations with local theatre companies, as well as schools in the East and the West of the city.

Israel Camerata Jerusalem Move To Jerusalem's Landmark YMCA Building

The Israel Camerata Jerusalem, one of Israel's leading classical ensembles, has finally moved to its imposing new home - the International YMCA building in Jerusalem - some 15 years after the move was first proposed. Back then, the ICJ was mooted as a resident orchestra in the landmark structure, but the plans fell apart and the orchestra moved to offices elsewhere in the city. Now the move has finally gone ahead, with Founding Music Director Avner Biron hailing it as "a long-held dream that will enable us to do so much more for the city". A 'housewarming' ceremony of sorts occurred when Jerusalem's mayor, Moshe Lion, came to a recent ICJ concert at the YMCA's concert hall, to light Chanukah lights and join the orchestra and audience in a rendition of traditional Chanukah songs (see photo at the bottom of this page).

The move is far more than a simple matter of administration, says ICJ General Manager Yoram Youngerman. "This building was created as a beacon for bringing peoples together in peace, through culture," he says, noting that the design of the auditorium itself incorporates the symbols of all three monotheistic faiths, "and its spaces, and location at the very heart of Jerusalem, just down the road from the Old City, now give us much better capability to lead concerts, educational and cross-cultural activities that will offer everyone better access and a kind of artistic glue that can bring us ever-closer together." He cites upcoming performances of Prokofiev's Peter And The Wolf with narration in both Hebrew and Arabic. "Once the Covid rules are relaxed again, we will be able to welcome kids from schools all over the city, 500 at a time."

There are plans for collaborations with local theatre companies, as well as schools in the East and the West of the city. Youngerman observes that the YMCA's various activities have long attracted a strong following in Jerusalem's Arab as well as Jewish communities, while it also has Christian origins (even the land on which it stands, which was purchased from the Greek Orthodox Church). In fact, its founder intended it to represent "a sermon in stone", and it was opened in 1933 with the memorable words, "Here is a place whose atmosphere is peace, where political and religious jealousies can be forgotten and international unity be fostered and developed." Designed by the same American architect, Arthur Loomis Harmon, who created the Empire State Building, it remains one of the most striking buildings in Jerusalem.

Upcoming subscription concerts at the YMCA's concert hall will include artists such as violinist Dmitri Berlinsky, Israel's MultiPiano Ensemble, and a celebration of music from Estonia with conductor Andres Mustonen. Meanwhile, the orchestra's long-standing series at the Jerusalem Theatre's Henry Crown Hall will continue, as will their busy touring schedule around the country and internationally. The next week will see concerts conducted by Reinhard Goebel, featuring music by Michael Haydn, Leopold Mozart and W.A.Mozart, with performances in Tel Aviv, Rehovot and Jerusalem (Jerusalem Theatre).



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