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ASO plays U.S. premieres by Israeli composers on May 31

names of those who built the State of Israel are legendary, but those who
forged its cultural voice played a vital role in communicating the new
country’s identity.  The American
Symphony Orchestra
presentspremieres by three of Israel’s European-born musical
patriarchs – Paul Ben-Haim, Ödön Pártos, and Mordecai Seter – and a
rarely-heard symphony by Josef Tal. 
All composed within a decade of the founding of the State of Israel, the
four works will be performed during the final ASO concert of the season, “Composing
a Nation: Israel’s Musical Patriarchs,”
at Avery Fisher Hall this Sunday, May 31 at 3pm, conducted by
ASO music director Leon Botstein. 
Botstein will also
give an informative free pre-concert lecture in the hall at 1:45pm.

program note lays out an enlightening historical background for this concert:

“The new Israelis had the Bible and
the story of the ancient kingdom of Israel, but when they arrived from their
European towns and villages to the Middle Eastern landscape and encountered
indigenous populations both Jewish and Arab with whom they were entirely
unfamiliar, these newly-minted citizens realized they had to construct a new
unifying national sensibility. …

“Amazingly, a tremendous portion of
this effort at national self-invention was assigned to the arts.  [Theodor] Herzl’s dream of the new
state as one of high culture was embraced by the Zionist pioneers.  The creation of orchestras and dance
and theater companies was considered an essential act of national

four of the featured composers were thoroughly assimilated Europeans when they
took up residence in their new homeland. 
Three had arrived in middle-eastern Israel as refugees from the
Nazis.  “Ödön Pártos, Paul
Ben-Haim, and Josef Tal brought with them a deep familiarity and attachment to
the modern European vocabulary of musical expression,” explains Botstein in his
program note.  Ödön Pártos was
Hungarian; Paul Ben-Haim and Josef Tal were both German.  The fourth, Mordecai Seter, was born in
Russia, and was the first of the four to arrive in Palestine, in 1926 at the
age of ten, and was more likely escaping the relatively new Soviet Army than
the burgeoning Nazi movement to Russia’s west.  When still in his teens, Seter left for Europe to study with
Paul Dukas and Nadia Boulanger in Paris, returning only in 1937 after
completing his studies.

summer, Botstein and the ASO will be on the beautiful Hudson Valley campus of
Bard College, where they will perform a wide variety of music as part of the
seventh annual Bard SummerScape festival. 
The seven-week festival opens on July 9 with Lucinda Childs’s Dance, to music by Philip
Glass and a film by Sol LeWitt, and closes on August 23 with the final concert
of the 20th annual Bard Music Festival, which focuses this
year on “Wagner and His World”
Other SummerScape highlights include Botstein and the ASO in the pit,
for Meyerbeer’s grand opera Les Huguenots (four performances, July 31 – August 7),
and on the stage, for a special performance of Mendelssohn’s oratorio St.

(August 9).  The Oresteia trilogy of Aeschylus –
translated by Ted Hughes and directed by Gregory Thomson; a film festival
focusing on “Politics, Theater, and Wagner”; and the return of Bard’s beloved
Spiegeltent round out what London’s Times Literary Supplement has called, “one of the
best lineups of the summer for fans of any arts discipline.”


May 31, 3pm

“Composing a Nation: Israel’s Musical Patriarchs”

Botstein conducts the American Symphony Orchestra

Fisher Hall

Seter (1916-94)

   Midnight Vigil, Op. 39a (1958) – U.S.

Tal (1910-2008)

   Symphony No. 2 (1960)

Pártos (1907-77)

   Ein gev, Symphonic Fantasy
(1952) – U.S. Premiere

Ben-Haim (1897-1984)

   Symphony No. 2 (1945) – U.S.

start at just $28; call (212) 868-9ASO (9276).  Group discounts available.  All ticket sales are final.

Botstein will give an illuminating pre-concert talk at 1:45pm in the auditorium
of Avery Fisher Hall, free to ticket-holders.

more about this concert and the 2009-10 season at or from
(212) 868-9ASO (9276).

American Symphony Orchestra’s 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons and programs are made
possible, in part, by support from National Endowment for the Arts, New York
State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs,
and Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer.  Major support is provided by the Winston Foundation, the
Faith Golding Foundation, and the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels
Foundation.  Additional support is
provided by the Dubose and Dorothy Heyward Memorial Trust, Ann and Gordon Getty
Foundation, HBO, the Gatewood Foundation, the Edith C. Blum Foundation, the
Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, and the Solon E. Summerfield Foundation.

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21C Media Group, May 26, 2009

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