The Boston Modern Orchestra Project performed alongside guest artist Kenneth Radnofsky to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence at Sanders Theatre on Sunday evening.
The concert, “Israel at 60: Six Decades of Innovative Music,” marked the world premiere of Israeli composer Betty Olivero’s composition Kri’ot, the first piece of Israeli classical music to join a solo saxophone—played by Radnofsky—and a string quartet. Oliveros’s premiere received a five-minute standing ovation from the audience.
Sponsored by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the Judaica Division of the Harvard College Library, the night celebrated the Israeli independence day through a selection of musical works by some of Israel’s most esteemed composers of classical music.
Violet Gilboa, the curator and producer of the show, said that its purpose was to educate the community about the diversity of Israeli classical music. “Israel is the corridor between the East and the West,” Gilboa said. “In this place, you will witness that composers, musicians, and teachers of all sorts, use the format of classical music, but season their works with the spices of many traditions found outside of Israel.” Gilboa said that this batch of “spices” include influences from Yemen and other neighboring countries in the Middle East as well as from places across Europe and the Balkans. She said that Olivero has bridged the gap between the past and the present, pioneering a new way to express classical music.
“Listening to her music is like swimming in an ocean and when you pick up your head you can see the traditions she is weaving into her music,” she said.
One member of the audience, Arkadig Abramov, said this concert will hopefully introduce more people to the composer’s work. “I normally don’t come here from Boston, but today is a special day,” he said.
Players in the Boston Modern Orchestra Project said they felt moved by the evening’s message.
“This is a worthy event to celebrate,” said Ron Haroutunian, the orchestra bassoon player. “I feel special for taking part in it.”
The concert follows the international conference “60 Years of Israeli Culture,” held earlier last week by the Judaica Division of the HCL. Both events were intended to illustrate “the vibrant spirit of Israel to the community,” according to Barry Schrage, the president of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies.