Entertainment » Music

Israeli consulate assists artists in upcoming concert

by Kay Bourne
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Feb 23, 2010

Israeli artists who have found a second home in New England perform with the adventurous pianist/composer Alla Elana Cohen at an upcoming concert at the Goethe Institute, thanks to the support of the Israeli Consulate in Boston.

The consulate General of Israel presents Allan Elana Cohen in collaboration with The Ariel String Quartet and BSO cellist Mickey Katz in a concert, Thursday, February 25 at eight pm at the Goethe Institute (170 Beacon St., Boston).

Last February, the distinguished composer, pianist, music theorist, and teacher played an eminently successful program, The Music of Alla Cohen, the first ticketed concert for the Russian émigré who is on the faculty at New England Conservatory of Music and Berklee College of Music. The exploratory compositions canvassed a life of great trauma, greater religious belief, and even greater generosity of spirit (evidenced most dramatically by having her students perform the challenging work sometimes in duet with her). In 1989, Cohen had escaped the anti Semitic, Soviet Communist regime with her mother (and but $150.00 in their pockets).

More than wars and conflict

Early last year a spokesperson for Cohen contacted the Israeli consulate informing them of her February concert. They were not able to attend, but Udi Urman, the Director of Cultural Affairs, asked if he could meet with the artist to discuss some sort of collaboration. He advised her, he explained to EDGE in a recent phone interview, that she would need to have the participation of Israeli artists for the consulate to take an interest. When Cohen returned with a program that does just that, Urman, who has been involved in more than 300 events in his three years here, took on the event. The Israeli Consultate is giving financial backing to the concert as well as using its outreach ability to promote attendance.

"It is my mission to show to New Englanders that there is more to Israel than wars and conflicts....there is great culture and entertainment," said Urman. Among visiting Israeli artists the consulate has sponsored in recent years are novelist and president of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel Sami Michael; filmmaker Dalit Kimor, whose recent documentary is about eight Muslin widows who started a pickle factory in Galilee; and classical pianist Sholomi Shaban who recently expanded his musical interest to rock and pop and with Eran Tzur made the album "He and He." Many of these artists appear on college campuses.

Urman also seeks to build connections between cultural institutions in Boston such as Boston Lyric Opera and comparable groups in Israel.

The Israeli connection for the Alla Elana Cohen concert is the Ariel String Quartet, founded in Israel, and soloist Mickey Katz, born in Israel and currently holding the Richard C. and Ellen E. Paine chair for the cello in the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Katz said in an interview with EDGE that he is pleased to be a part of the program because he finds Cohen’s music, "fresh and not fitting any mold. Her music comes from her gut. It’s personal and deeply emotional. Her music doesn’t sound like something else." Katz, who studied at the New England Conservatory of Music drawn there by the opportunity to study with famed cellist (and NEC president emeritus) Laurence Lesser, recalls seeing Cohen in school corridors but never chanced to talk with her.

The February 25 concert, which will also mark the release of two new CDs from Cohen, will feature her original compositions for string quartet as well as solos for piano and for cello.

The Consulate General of Israel presents Allan Elana Cohen in collaboration with The Ariel String Quartet and BSO cellist Mickey Katz in a concert, Thursday, February 25 at 8 pm at the Goethe Institute (170 Beacon St., Boston). For more information visit the Goethe Institute website.


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