Concerts and Workshops in Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Taybeh with the Varietas-Ensemble – September 12-15, 2019

“Art has no limits”
Ludwig van Beethoven

The violinists Iris Krall-Radulian and Daniela Preimesberger, and the violist Maria Potulska, members of the Varietas-Ensemble, proved in a most beautiful way that Beethoven’s quote is undeniably true when it comes to playing music in our region.

This celebrated Viennese ensemble has  performed at renowned international festivals and concert halls such as the Salzburg Festival, Lockenhaus Festival, Vienna Konzerthaus and the Mozarteum Salzburg. They opened their concert tour, which is their premier apperance in the Middle East, with a recital for students, staff and friends of the Bethlehem University, and performed pieces by Beethoven, Dvorak, Mozart and Händel at the Chapel of the Divine Child on University campus.

On the following day we had the chance to accompany the Varietas-Ensemble to a workshop on Mozart’s “Little Night Music”, organized by Dutch cellist Fabienne van Eck. Van Eck is the manager of Musicians without Borders in Palestine, and founder of “Sounds of Palestine”, a community music project inspired by and based on the concept of El Sistema in Venezuela, which promotes music education as a medium to achieve long term social change for the participating children and their families.

On September 13th, the Varietas-Ensemble performed at the Pasha Room at the American Colony Hotel. The audience included Israelis and Palestinians, as well as international guests from all over the region.

In her review, music critic Pamela Hickman praised the musical dialogue that was sparkling, exciting and virtuosic, and the artists’ “quick-change-artistry” that presented beauty and diversity through a kaleidoscope of string techniques.

Classical music has always played an important role in the rich history of this legendary hotel. For centuries, it was not only a place of historic encounters between remarkable figures, from Lawrence of Arabia to the political leaders of today, but has also been a place of arts and creation. The hotel’s archives house old-ages scores and music sheets written at or for the American Colony. The Willy Brandt Center is proud to be part of the musical revival of this prestigious venue and its long tradition of intercultural encounters and artistic exchanges.

Another audience of music lovers of all generations was reached at the famous Taybeh Beer festival in the Palestinian Territories, where the three musicians gave another brilliant example of their talent in an afternoon open air performance.

We would like to thank the Austrian Cultural Forum in Tel Aviv for bringing the Varietas-Ensemble to Jerusalem, and for enabling all these inspiring musical encounters. Our thanks also goes to the American Colony Hotel, for generously hosting the musicians during their stay.

A Visit of RippleZoo at the WBC – September 3, 2019

On September 3rd, the Willy Brandt Center was delighted to welcome Stephen Byrne, the founder of RippleZoo – a Dublin based non-profit trust that focuses on global issues – for an exchange of ideas, experiences and strategies for peace projects in areas of crisis.

The visit’s main focus was the development of intercultural music projects with young European, Israeli and Palestinian participants. These projects will be realized in cooperation with the Mediterranean Perspectives Association, whose president, Enrico Molinaro, was also present at the meeting.

The team of the Willy Brandt Center enjoyed hearing about RippleZoo’s plans and ideas, and brainstorming together about possible options for future cooperation.

We are in complete agreement with RippleZoo’s credo, stating that “Anything war can do, peace can do better”, and support their mission and strong belief that cultural projects enable us to make a positive difference in the world.

“Mulu and Tsegay” – A Puppet Theatre Project for Schools – June 16, 2019

In June, the Willy Brandt Center was happy to present a new puppet theatre project for schools, developed by the Israeli actors Moriya Benavot and Shaharit Yerushalmy. Their play, “Mulu and Tsegay”, is an adaption for the stage of a children’s book written by the Israeli author Tamar Verete-Zehav. It tells of courage, friendship and love, and is based on the true experiences of African refugees now living in Israel.

The audience follows the harrowing journey of two siblings, a brother and sister, who run away from their home in Eastern Africa after witnessing the burning of a neighbouring village.

Believing in the power of the arts, and specifically theatre, the artists aim to sow seeds of tolerance, open-mindedness and acceptance towards the so-called strangers living in our midst. Instead of perpetuating stereotypes infused with fear and hatred, they hope to create a sense of empathy, acceptance and compassion.

The play was performed at Beit Hakerem School in Jerusalem, where children and staff greatly enjoyed the lively performance of “Mulu and Tsegay”. The play was followed by a panel and workshops with Abdu Adam, the director Hadas Selbst, the author Tamar Verete-Zehavi, and the two actors.

We hope to have the chance to present the play to wider audiences throughout Israel in the future, and expect that “Mulu and Tsegay” will soon visit other schools as well as community centres, thus invite more kids to embark on this magical journey.

UNESCO International Jazz Day Celebration Jerusalem – April 27-30, 2019

In 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially designated April 30th as International Jazz Day – a worldwide initiative aimed at celebrating the art form of jazz for its ability to promote peace, freedom, dialogue among cultures, diversity and respect for human rights, and to reinforce the role of youth in enacting social change.

For this year’s International Jazz Day, the Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem cooperated with the Austrian Cultural Forum Tel Aviv, the Austrian Hospice, the Swiss Representative Office, the Italian Consulate General and the UNESCO National Office for Palestine.

We started the celebrations with a musical overture at the Wonder Cabinet in Bethlehem, during which the audience felt the music reviving the halls of an old furniture factory and turning the industrial space into a place for art and creative encounters.

Two days later, the event was followed by a concert at the Austrian Hospice in Jerusalem’s Old City, filling the Imperial Salon and the corridors of the house with hundreds of music lovers. There, for the first time, the ensemble of Austrian, Italian, Swiss and Palestinian musicians was accompanied by young talents from Gaza.

On April 30th, the Municipality of Ramallah hosted the official concert for Palestine, which was part of this global initiative with more than 200 countries from all continents. A look at the audience gathered in front of the big, open air stage of Ramallah Municipality, charmingly demonstrated how jazz unites people of all ages and nations.

We would like to thank all of our amazing artists for turning each concert into a truly special musical experience: Mohammad Albalawi, Samir Alborno, Heidi Caviezel, Lukas Leitner, Mohammad Nasrallah, Rahaf Shamaly, Mohammad Shoman, Said Srour, Luca Velotti, Mohammad Qutati, Luca Velotti, and the Amwaj Children Choir.

Altogether, more than 1000 guests attended this year’s International Jazz Day performances, and the Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem is already looking forward to new music adventures that will unite communities, schools, artists, academics and jazz enthusiasts from all over the world to celebrate and enjoy jazz music together.

“The Passenger” Panel @ WBC – April 8, 2019

The Willy Brandt Center was honoured to welcome Ella Milch-Sheriff and David Pountney, both international opera stars, for a panel featuring Mieczysław Weinberg’s composition “The Passenger” on April 8th, 2019.

Composer Ella Milch-Sheriff is one of Israel’s most performed composers in recent years. Several of her creations, such as “And the Rat Laughed”, “The Banality of Love” and “Baruch’s Silence”, engage with stories from the holocaust and touch on the history of her own family.

Mieczyslaw Weinberg, then a young Jewish composer, fled the advancing German troops in 1939 and crossed the border into the Soviet Union, where he stayed and worked tirelessly until the end of his life.

British-Polish theatre and opera director and librettist David Pountney is known for his productions of rarely performed operas, and his new productions of classic works. In 2010 he staged the premiere of Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s opera “The Passenger”, which deals with guilt and its repression after the Holocaust, and tells the story of women prisoners transported to Auschwitz from all over the world. Based on a novel by Zofia Posmysz, a Polish Auschwitz survivor, Weinberg’s masterpiece had been concealed for more than 40 years and became “somehow itself a real survivor”, as noted by David Pountney. Originally produced by the Bregenz Festival, the highly successful production led to the rediscovery of its composer, Weinberg, and was later staged at the opera houses of Warsaw, London, Houston, New York, Miami, Chicago. In April of this year the production has travelled also to Israel, where it was presented at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center.

The panel discussion invoked intricate questions such as how to remain human and humane in a place that has lost all human form, and what role do the arts play when it comes to the murderous oppression of the powerless by the powerful.

Even the nightmare of Auschwitz is a human story, explained David Puntney. “The Passenger” presents young women, victim and perpetrator; one at each side of the fence. “it’s the story about the narrow difference about a human being that is doing the right thing and a human being that is doing a wrong thing,” continued Pountney, as “the role of art is to look at the most difficult subjects”.

During the discussion, when the question arose whether the holocaust should be represented in artistic performances, both artists agreed that  music has the means to express what perhaps cannot be expressed in any other way; not only does it have the power to touch its audience and trigger a deeper compassion and understanding, it also enables us to heal open wounds.

International Women’s Day 2019

To mark the International Women’s Day on March 8th, the Willy Brandt Center organized a panel discussion on women’s status in the arts. The guests of the panel were long-time manager of the Barenboim Said Foundation in Ramallah, Muna Khleifi, art historian and director of the Negev Museum of Art, Dalia Manor, and co-founder of the Barbur Gallery in Jerusalem, Masha Zusman.

Each panel member spoke of her background and presented her work and experience in the field of art. The panel encompassed today’s challenges, opportunities, creative concepts and visions for the future.

One of the problems that were discussed is the lack of documentation and representation of female art creation, which leads to a lack of knowledge about great women artists over the centuries. Another issue that was mentioned is the market value of male artists, which is still higher than that of female artists.

All participants agreed that the situation has improved over the last decades and that the number of women working in the arts has risen. Nevertheless, to a large extent women are still excluded from management, and many major decisions are left to men.

The large attending audience engaged in a lively discussion, offering their experiences from other fields and different countries.

The conclusion was that there is still a long way to go to reach equality. Nevertheless, the panel ended with the optimistic encouragement of women to promote each other and to act in solidarity in order to overcome social limitations and obstacles.

 

Illustration: WBC – International women’s day postcard, designed for WBC by Dorit Bialer (2019)

Concert by the Tel Aviv Wind Quintet – March 29, 2019

The Willy Brandt Center team was delighted to welcome for the first time the internationally celebrated Tel Aviv Wind Quintet. Its members, Roy Amotz (flute), Yigal Kaminka (oboe), Itamar Leshem (horn), Nadav Cohen (bassoon) and Danny Erdman (clarinet), prepared a program composed of classics and masterpieces of the 20th century. Music lovers from the whole region gathered to hear the popular ensemble and filled our center’s hall.

The Tel Aviv Wind Quintet was founded in 2009 by young Israeli musicians seeking to bring the wonderful woodwind repertoire, as well as commissioned works, to wider audiences. Today, the quintet performs at the most distinguished concert halls all around Israel, Europe and Asia. What made the evening at the Willy Brandt Center so special was the intimate and cosy ambiance, creating an atmosphere of “chamber music” in every sense. The artists and audience soon found themselves interacting with each other, discussing the meaning behind the performed musical pieces, and talking about composers and instruments. The personal and lively encounter continued long after the concert, as the audience and musicians shared individual concert experiences and philosophised about music.

We are looking forward to the ensemble’s return to our center in the near future, and to further cooperate on workshop and concert projects with these wonderful musicians and young Israeli and Palestinian talents.

“Octaves of Light” – Performances by the Ensemble Wiener Collage in Celebration of Christmas and Hanukkah – December 17, 2018

The Willy Brandt Center was honored to host the Ensemble Wiener Collage, a chamber orchestra formation residing at the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna.

The ensemble, which is internationally celebrated for its contemporary music interpretations, presented two performances as an exciting alternative to the classical concerts of the Christmas season, playing a beautiful program for an open minded audience in a scenic setting by Australian director Tania Golden.
Christmas and Hanukkah are religious winter festivals that share many similarities. The musicians took their audience on a journey lead by light, from darkness and into joy.

When choosing composers for this evening, the Ensemble looked for young, ambitious Israeli and European artists to support their work. Thus, Arnold Schönberg’s “Christmas Music“, which consists of bits and pieces of famous Christmas carols, was combined with Klezmer melodies and creations by Benjy Fox Rosen, Dietmar Hellmich, Karl Kohn, Alexander Kukelka, Leon Pollak, Ella Milch-Sherif, Alexander Stankovski and Jaime Wolfson.

The Willy Brandt Center was delighted to welcome the prominent Israeli composer Ella Milch-Sherif, who attended the performance of her latest work, composed of two songs based on Yiddish poems written by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, which were expressively interpreted by mezzo soprano Patricia Nolz.

The Ensemble Wiener Collage includes members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra who are dedicated to contemporary music, together with outstanding independent musicians from the contemporary music scene. Guest conductors have included Pierre Boulez, Friedrich Cherha and Erich Urbanner. In Jerusalem, the ensemble played under the baton of its founder René Staar.

Our thanks go to Wien Kultur, the Austrian Federal Chancellery and to the Austrian Cultural Forum in Tel Aviv, for facilitating the artists’ journey to Jerusalem and implementing these special performances at our center.

“Promise Me a Land”: Exhibition and book presentation with Clement Chapillon – October 11, 2018

“Promise Me a Land” is a project by French Photographer Clement Chapillon which focuses on the bond between people and their land, with the aim to explore the imprint that this land has left on its inhabitants’ identity, in a manner far from traditional clichés.
The project was presented in an exhibition at the Willy Brandt Center in cooperation with the Institut français de Jérusalem Romain Gary, from the 11th of October to the 18th.
Clement Chapillon visited Israel and Palestine in different seasons and experimented with the variation of landscapes, colors, and landforms. He soon felt the need to include in his work the voices of the people he had met. He ventured out to investigate the various dimensions of the seemingly unalterable relationships and ties between people and their land: what marks has the land imprinted on their identity? What hopes, fantasies, and promises remain? To explore this attachment between the land and its inhabitants, he interviewed and photographed people in cities, villages, settlements and kibbutzim. They told him about their lives and their dreams upon this land. A humane, sensitive picture emerged, forming a photographic narrative that Chapillon wishes to convey; its images are immersed in an artistic experience and bring to new light the roots of Israel and Palestine.
The Willy Brandt Center was proud to be given the opportunity to present Clement Chapillon’s project for the first time in the region which is portrayed in his work.
Previous to the project’s presentation at our center, it was published in media and newspapers (such as Die Zeit, Le monde, Arte, L’OBS), exhibited in several festivals and has won the Leica Prize 2017 which allowed Chapillon to present a solo show at the Leica Galery in Paris in April 2018.
Earlier this year, Clement Chapillon published a book titled “Promise Me a Land“, which is a unique patchwork of words, portraits and landscapes. This deeply personal testimony reflects the Israeli-Palestinian mosaic from a profoundly humane perspective. The book, which was published by the German Kehrer Verlag, was presented at the Institut français de Jérusalem followed by a public talk with Clement Chapillon and moderated by Jean-Marc Liling. The artist shared with his audience his experiences and encounters during the developing of the project.

Conference: Jerusalem Open Forum – October 11-13, 2018

We are happy to invite you to our Conference Jerusalem Open Forum: «Past and Future Reflection and Creation» at the Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem from October 11-13, 2018.

The program starts on October 11 with the opening of Clement Chapillon›s photo exhibition „Promise Me a Land». In the days after that, there will be workshops and panel discussions in which we look to the future and seek ways to inspire discussion and visions for Jerusalem as a peaceful city. In this spirit, we have also organized a musical program that invites you to open your senses to new experiences.

Program of  Jerusalem Open Forum: «Past and Future Reflection and Creation»

OCTOBER 11th

19.00 Vernissage of Clement Chapillon›s photo exhibition „Promise Me a Land»

OCTOBER 12th

12.30 Workshop Peace Education by the Educational Cooperation in the WBC

16.00 Presentation „The History of the Abu Tor Neighborhood and the House of the Willy Brandt Center»
by Prof. Ali Qleibo (Research commissioned by the WBC)

18.30 Reception Formal Opening and Come Together

19.00 Concert „UNESCO Jazz Journeys»

OCTOBER 13th

11.00-16.00 Workshop Think-tank «Redesigning Jerusalem»

    • 11.00-14.00 (with break)

 

    • Peace Building and the production of place – A Jerusalem Dilemma!

 

    • with Omar Yousef

 

    • 14.00-15.00 Lunch

 

    • 15.00-16.30 Tour with Yonathan Mizrachi, Emek Shaveh executive director.

 

    “Hinnom valley – a mix of history, ancient sites, and political interests, at the edge of Abu Tur neighborhood.”

17.00 Presentation Dion Nissenbaum «A Street Divided» Lecture and Panel discussion

19.30 Concert Lukas Lauermann, Cello Sound Experience

* All events take place at: Willy Brandt Center Jerusalem, Ein Rogel 22, Jerusalem – Abu Tor
info@willybrandtcenter.org

The Willy Brandt Center is supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in cooperation with the Forum Civil Peace Service.

This event is made possible by the kind support of:
Center for International Encounters Jerusalem (CIE)
Austrian Cultural Forum Tel Aviv
UNESCO
Institut Français de Jérusalem – Romain Gary