Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Zubin Mehta, Music Director and Conductor
Mihoko Fujimura, Mezzo-Soprano
Ted Sperling, Artistic Director
Manhattan Girls Chorus
Michelle Oesterle, Artistic Director
MAHLER Symphony No. 3
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) is one of Israel's oldest and most influential cultural institutions. Since its founding in 1936, the IPO has dedicated itself to presenting the world's greatest music to audiences in Israel and around the world. Founded by Polish violinist Bronisław Huberman, the IPO represents the fulfillment of his dream "to unite the desire of the country for an orchestra with the desire of the Jewish musicians for a country." Huberman spent countless hours persuading first-chair musicians of Eastern European and German orchestras, who had lost their jobs as a result of Nazism, to immigrate to Palestine. In doing so, he created an "orchestra of soloists" which, under the esteemed leadership of Zubin Mehta, continues to absorb new immigrants and act as a dynamic, global community for musicians from across the world.
Major soloists and conductors have always performed with the IPO. Its inaugural concert was conducted by Arturo Toscanini, who believed that his participation was a means to demonstrate his opposition to fascism. Among Israelis, the memory of IPO Laureate Conductor Leonard Bernstein leading the orchestra in front of 5,000 soldiers on the Negev dunes in 1948 remains a historic moment. The orchestra has also enjoyed associations with such renowned artists as Emanuel Ax, Daniel Barenboim, Yefim Bronfman, Yoel Levi, Yo-Yo Ma, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Itzhak Perlman, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Arthur Rubinstein, Gil Shaham, Isaac Stern, and Pinchas Zukerman.
The IPO is Israel's premier cultural ambassador and travels extensively throughout the world, particularly to countries where there is little or no Israeli representation. The goodwill created by these tours--which have included historic visits to Japan, Argentina, Poland, Hungary, Russia, China, and India--is of enormous value to the State of Israel. In 2005, the orchestra traveled to Berlin to commemorate 40 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany; to London, Paris, and Geneva on a tour co-sponsored by the Weizmann and Pasteur institutes; and to South America, where the orchestra visited eight cities in 20 days.
Due to the efforts of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Foundation, the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and the generous support of donors worldwide, the orchestra returned to its home at Tel Aviv's newly renamed Charles Bronfman Auditorium in March 2013 after extensive renovations.
Born in Mumbai, Zubin Mehta grew up in a musical environment. His father, Mehli Mehta, founded the Bombay Symphony Orchestra and was music director of the American Youth Symphony in Los Angeles. Zubin Mehta's initial field of study was medicine, but he abandoned it at the age of 18 to attend the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien. Seven years later, he conducted both the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Berliner Philharmoniker. He rapidly became one of the world's most sought after conductors, holding directorships with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (1961-1967), Los Angeles Philharmonic (1962-1978), New York Philharmonic (1978-1991), and Bayerische Staatsoper (1998-2006). The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) appointed Mr. Mehta music advisor in 1969, music director in 1977, and music director for life in 1981. Combining concerts, recordings, and tours, Mr. Mehta has conducted thousands of performances on five continents with the IPO. Since 1985, he has also acted as chief conductor of the music festival Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Italy, becoming honorary conductor for life in 2006.
Mr. Mehta has received countless awards and distinctions, including the Kennedy Center Honors; the Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony in India; the President's Medal of Distinction from Israeli President Shimon Peres; the Praemium Imperiale from the Japanese imperial family; honorary doctorates from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, and Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel; a special recognition at the ceremony of the Israel Prize; and a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is an honorary citizen of both Florence and Tel Aviv, and an honorary member of the Vienna State Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, and Vienna's Musikverein. In 2006, his autobiography--Die Partitur meines Leben: Erinnerungen (The Score of My Life: Memories)--was published in Germany and Israel.
Zubin Mehta continues to support the discovery and promotion of musical talent all over the world. Together with his brother Zarin, he is co-chairman of the Mehli Mehta Music Foundation in Mumbai, where more than 200 children are educated in Western classical music.
Mihoko Fujimura was born in Japan and studied at both the University of Tokyo and the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München. She won numerous international singing competitions before joining the ensemble of Oper Graz from 1995 to 2000, at which time she debuted many of her signature roles.
She came to international attention with her performances at the 2002 Bayerische Staatsoper Festival and the Bayreuth Festival, and has since become a regular guest at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Teatro alla Scala; Vienna State Opera; Théâtre du Châtelet; Teatro Real; Deutsche Oper Berlin; Bayreuth Festival; Maggio Musicale Fiorentino; and Festival d'Aix-en-Provence.
In concert, Ms. Fujimura has appeared with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin; the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms with Semyon Bychkov; the London Symphony Orchestra with both Daniel Harding and Sir Colin Davis; the Orchestre de Paris with Christoph Eschenbach; The Philadelphia Orchestra with Charles Dutoit; the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal with Kent Nagano; the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with both Yuri Temirkanov and Kurt Masur; the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and Myung-Whun Chung; the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with Andris Nelsons; the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra with Mariss Jansons; the Munich Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra with Christian Thielemann; and the Berliner Philharmoniker with both Bernard Haitink and Sir Simon Rattle. Other conductors with whom she has performed include Claudio Abbado, Ádám Fischer, Fabio Luisi, and Peter Schneider.
Ms. Fujimura has recorded the role of Brangäne (Tristan und Isolde) with Sir Antonio Pappano for EMI Classics, and Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Mariss Jansons. For the Fontec label, she has released two solo recital albums with pianist Wolfram Rieger, singing works by Wagner, Mahler, Schubert, Strauss, Brahms, and Schumann.
In 2014, Ms. Fujimura was awarded the Purple Ribbon Medal of Honor by the Japanese government for her contribution to academic and artistic developments, improvements, and accomplishments.
MasterVoices (formerly The Collegiate Chorale) was founded in 1941 by conductor Robert Shaw, the "dean of American choral singing," who believed the voice was the world's most powerful instrument. Today, the human voice remains at the heart of all MasterVoices concerts: Featuring an acclaimed chorus of more than 100 members and a dazzling array of world-class soloists, MasterVoices programs celebrate the capacity of vocal music to connect, unite, and inspire.
Distinguished by its range of repertoire, MasterVoices performs choral classics, concert versions of musical theater and opera, and premieres of newly commissioned works. Landmark performances in the group's history include the 1952 opening of the United Nations, concerts under the batons of Arturo Toscanini, Leonard Bernstein, and Serge Koussevitzky, and world premieres of works by Aaron Copland, Paul Hindemith, Kurt Weill, Paul McCartney, and Philip Glass, among others. The group regularly appears with premiere orchestras in the US and abroad, including a tour to Israel and the Salzburg Festival with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in 2012, and presents its own annual season of concerts in New York City at venues that range from Carnegie Hall and New York City Center to site-specific concerts at museums and outdoor parks.
Every MasterVoices concert also serves to nurture the artists of tomorrow. Young soloists make their New York debuts as part of the organization's Faith Geier Artist Initiative, and the chorus includes participants from MasterVoices's Side-by-Side Program, which pairs aspiring high school singers with experienced chorus members who act as mentors. These unprecedented opportunities have launched the career of many young musicians.
Now under the baton of Tony Award-winning Artistic Director Ted Sperling, the group is expanding its commissioning and further defining its repertoire with an emphasis on the art of musical storytelling. Recent critically acclaimed concerts include Bach's St. John Passion, Herbert's Babes in Toyland, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, and the new opera 27 by Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek. For more information about MasterVoices and its upcoming concerts, please visit mastervoices.org.
The Manhattan Girls Chorus is a nurturing community of 50 young women in grades 5-12 from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds who seek an extraordinary music education and opportunities for performance excellence. It is free for every girl. In addition to helping each singer realize her full musical potential, we encourage mentoring relationships with women in the arts and other professions. Self-esteem, confidence, and leadership skills are cultivated through a community of love, respect, and support. Our hope is for every young woman to develop a lifelong passion for singing, serving others, and bringing her inner beauty to the world.
The Manhattan Girls Chorus, founded in 2011, made its Carnegie Hall debut in October 2012 in the New York premiere of Noam Sheriff's Mechaye Hametim with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Thomas Hampson, and MasterVoices under the baton of Maestro Zubin Mehta. Most recently, it performed Bernstein's Symphony No. 3, "Kaddish," with the American Symphony Orchestra. The chorus previously performed R. Strauss's Feuersnot, Boito's Mefistofele, and Osvaldo Golijov's Oceana with the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall.
In addition, the Manhattan Girls Chorus was honored to perform at the United Nations Ambassadors' Ball for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's farewell event with Steven Tyler. It also performed at Carnegie Hall for The Revlon Concert for the Rainforest Fund with Sting, Idina Menzel, and Vittorio Grigòlo. The chorus recently completed a recording of Pauline Viardot's opera Le dernier sorcier--which has recently been rediscovered after 150 years--with acclaimed artists Eric Owens, Jamie Barton, Camille Zamora, Monica Yunus, Adriana Zabala, Sarah Brailey, and Michael Slattery. Additional performances have included the New York premiere of David Lang's battle hymns performed on the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum with MasterVoices, as well as the 2015 Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center. Recently, the Manhattan Girls Chorus recorded "Even When He Is Silent" by Kim André Arnesen. The chorus subsequently collaborated with celebrated artist Kevork Mourad in a moving and emotional video of the work, which was released in November 2016.