GAMBAS IN GALILEE
In September 2013 three members of the New York Consort of Viols joined two members of Israel?s Phoenix Early Music Ensemble in a slightly abridged version of the New York consort?s highly praised program, “The Road from Valencia (CD available here).” It pays hommage to the musically gifted Bassano and Lupo families as they fled the 1492 Spanish Inquisition and found positions in northern Italy and later in the court of Henry VIII. The program culminates in a group of recent works inspired by Sephardic melodies. Readings taken from Renaissance sources, such as the Edict of Expulsion, lend historical context to the music. For this performance the readings were translated into Hebrew, and were delivered by Phoenix llutenist and tenor Eliav Lavi. Myrna Herzog, director of the Phoenix Ensemble, played viol. Not only did she host us (Lesley Retzer, Larry Lipnik and myself) but provided us with viols for the occasion, thus sparing us the expense and inconvenience of flying with our own instruments.
The occasion was an annual Renaissance festival. The audience was composed of many family groups Many of the activities catered to young children, such as dramatic skits, making pots on a wheel, creating simple musical instruments. Our listeners included many children, who seemed really interested despite the seriousness of some of the readings. The early fall weather was perfect, though a brisk breeze sometimes dislodged our pages, despite the clothespins.
Most memorable was the setting. The activties took place on the grounds of the Fortress of Yehiam, which was built by the crusader order of Knights Templars at the end of the 12th century as a fortified agricultural holding. Alongside these picturesque ruins a kibbutz was founded in 1946. The view from our perch atop the ruins was breathtaking. Above it all the gods must have been smiling at our “hands across the seas.”
Please watch this space for details of our New York concerts in the coming winter and spring:
- Baroque Music and
Music from Shakespeare’s Time
- Strange Bed-Fellows