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Tel Aviv Classical Music Scene gets Canadian Treat

06.16.09
Les Violons du Roy
Jewish Tribune

Toronto's Jeanne Lamon, conductor of Tafelmusik - that remarkable Toronto-based internationally renowned baroque orchestra featuring period instruments of the 17th century - led Quebec's Les Violons du Roy in two magnificent concerts at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art recently. She loves Tel Aviv's classical music scene and hopes to conduct more concerts there.

The 17th century was abundant in symphonic compositions of Jewish content. One of the most prominent works is Antonio Vivaldi's Juditha Triumphant, a full-length oratorio about Judith and her successful battle against the Babylonian king Holofernes. Quebec's Mireille Lebel, a stately mezzo-soprano, was unforgettably regal in her portrayal of Judith as she performed several exuberantly fast solo arias. Her powerful yet emotionally expressive performances, backed by the tight violin section led by Lamon, who is an excellent violinist in her own right, evoked standing ovations.

The other major Jewish component of these two concerts was the music of Salomine Rossi, an Italian Jew who composed for the court of Venice. He composed two separate sets of brief classical works for both the Venice ghetto and for the royal court of Venice. His work favourably compares to that of Vivaldi in terms of beautiful melodies and lush orchestrations. Toronto Cantor Benjamin Maissner often led performances of Rossi's work in the 1980s and this composer should be much more exposed for both Jewish and mainstream audiences throughout the Diaspora as well as in Israel.

The other works in these 90-minute concerts included selections of Handel's opera Radomista, in which Mireille Lebel performed solo arias alternating with instrumental movements, and Bach's familiar Concerto in D minor for two violins; which is usually associated with the likes of Isaac Stern, Yitzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zuckerman.

Lamon's duo violin performance with Nicole Trotier approached the calibre of the more famous masters, and as the finale of the concerts, evoked suitable bravos.

How did Lamon get to conduct this notable Quebec string ensemble in Tel Aviv?

"The Felicia Blumental Foundation(which produced this concert as part of a series of 10 other concerts) approached Les Violons du Roy and they in turn approached me. Les Violons du Roy approached Mireille Lebel.  We had never performed together before."
The partnership between Lamon and Lebel seemed so natural that one would never have known this fact.

Will this concert be repeated in Canada?

"Unlikely," Lamon told the Jewish Tribune. "Maybe in Quebec."

Lamon performed in Jerusalem "a long time ago.  This is the first time I have performed in Tel Aviv. It's really great here. The audiences are enthusiastic music lovers," she declared.