Israeli Music in Canada | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Israeli Music in Canada

By 1990 there had been little emigration from Israel to Canada, and that was mostly to Montreal and Toronto, with smaller numbers settling in Hamilton, Ottawa, and Vancouver. Groups such as the YMHA and YWHA, the Canada-Israel Cultural Foundation (established 1963), and various local organizations have worked to perpetuate and disseminate Israeli culture through classes, demonstrations, concerts, and lectures. In June 1978, in honour of Israel's 30th anniversary, Toronto's Ontario Place staged the first of what became annual Israeli Day celebrations. Israeli groups which visited Canada to mark this occasion in 1978 included the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (which had performed in Canada in 1951, 1967, and 1976) and folk artists such as the Yitzhak Argaman Trio. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra returned to Canada in 1985 for an appearance at Montreal's PDA under Zubin Mehta, and in 1989 to give a joint concert with the TSO as a fund-raising event for both orchestras.

Among other Israeli artists who have appeared in Canada are the composer Tzvi Avni, the pianist-conductor Daniel Barenboim, the conductors Gary Bertini, Eliahu Inbal, and Uri Segal, the pianists David Bar-Illan, Yefim Bronfman, Varda Nishri, and Menahem Pressler, the violinists Miriam Fried, Shlomo Mintz, Itzhak Perlman, and Pinchas Zukerman, the clarinetist Yona Etlinger, the duo-pianists Bracha Eden and Alexander Tamir, the Ramat-Gan Chamber Orchestra, the Tel Aviv Quartet, the Israel Trio, the Yuval Trio, and the pop singer Shoshana Damari. Gadna, the national youth orchestra of Israel, performed at Montreal's PDA in the late 1960s.

Israelis who have settled or lived in Canada include Daniel Domb, the principal cello of the TSO, Uri Mayer, Rivka Golani, he violinists Moshe Hammer and Joseph Peleg (both born in Europe but raised and trained in Israel), the violinist Yaëla Hertz and her brother, the cellist Talmon Hertz, the cellist Ofra Harnoy, Malka Cohen of the folk duo Malka and Joso, the pianist Elyakim Taussig, and the conductor Eli Rubinstein. Moshe Murvitz, the Israeli violinist and assistant concertmaster of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, was concertmaster of the TS 1979-80.

Israeli folksong and dance and popular music are part of Jewish life in Canada, through live performances, classes, and workshops, summer camps, recorded music, and such events as the annual Jerusalem Day, Hassidic Song Festival, and Jerusalem Pavilion at Toronto's Caravan Festival. Local organizations and individuals have worked to disseminate Israeli culture. Canadian performers of and specialists in Israeli traditional and popular music include Jo Amar, Shlomo Bar and his innovative group Habrera Hativit, Oded Ben Hor, ethnomusicologist Dina Berdugo Sabbah, David Broza, Shlomo Carlebach, Shoshana Damari, Yehoram Gaon, Tsipora Sibahi Greenfield, Ofra Haza, Haïm Louk, Haïm Moshe, Doron Ophir, Yakov Sassi, Ahuva Senemsky, Naomi Shemer, and Yaffa Yarkoni.

A number of Canadian musicians have visited Israel. Among them are the singers Victor Braun, Allan Fine, Maureen Forrester, George London, and Joseph Rouleau, the conductors Alexander Brott, Fernand Graton, and Ethel Stark, the pianist Glenn Gould, and the country singer Tommy Common. The pianist-conductor Aaron Charloff, raised in Winnipeg, settled in Israel. The clarinetist Avrahm Galper was trained in Palestine. The Toronto-born bassoonist Carol Patterson joined the Israel Chamber Orchestra in 1981. Lorand Fenyves, Thomas Monohan, Norman Sherman, and George Zukerman all were members of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Fenyves as concertmaster. Elie Spivak in 1950 was the first Canadian invited to play in Israel. In 1952 under Ethel Stark and in 1964 under Fernand Graton the Chanteurs du Québec took part in the choir festival at Zimria; among the music they performed was John Weinzweig's 'Am Israel Chai'. Weinzweig's Cello Sonata: 'Israel' (1949) was dedicated to the new state. Ben Steinberg's compositions have been published and performed in Israel, and on occasion (eg, his 'Prayer for Jerusalem') also commissioned in Israel. Canadian performers and lecturers of traditional and popular music who have visited Israel include singer-songwriter-media producer Batsheva who worked with the Israel Broadcast Authority, Bluma Schonnbrun, Chorale Kinor, a Montreal Sephardic choir selected for the 1981 Zimria Festival, the 'Gerineldo' Ensemble, and Caroline and David Parry. Judith R. Cohen has been invited to teach a semester of traditional musics of Canada in the Hebrew University's Canadian studies program.

In 1961 Hugh Le Caine developed equipment for use in the electronic studio at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In the summer of 1973 the JM World Orchestra convened in Israel under Zubin Mehta, with Walter Joachim coaching lower strings and Louis Charbonneau coaching percussion. Among several young Canadians in the orchestra were the clarinetist James Campbell and the cellist Guy Fouquet. In 1974 Janina Fialkowska shared third prize in the first Artur Rubinstein International Competition, in Jerusalem. In 1980 Gilles Tremblay's Oralléluiants was performed at World Music Days, the ISCM festival, held in Tel Aviv.

See also Jewish music and musicians.