Fall Benefits: Top Brass

One shared highlight of this month’s three AFIPO benefits will be performances by the Israel Philharmonic Brass Quintet


This month, while the three annual AFIPO benefits will uniquely reflect their host cities – New York on October 23, Los Angeles on October 25, and San Francisco on October 28 – they will share two central elements: raising funds for the IPO’s KeyNote education programs and a performance by the IPO Brass Quintet.

For the three AFIPO benefits, Maestro Zubin Mehta has selected five members of the IPO brass section. These musicians, who have performed in thousands of IPO rehearsals and concerts, are Michael Slatkin (horn), Eran Reemy and Ram Oren (trumpet), Shmuel (Adi) Hershko (tuba), and Nir Erez (trombone). The music they will perform is an international sampler of composers:

  • South America: “Suite Americana for brass quintet No. 1” by Enrique Crespo, the Uruguayan-born trombonist and composer-arranger
  • United States: W.C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues Fantasy” and the Gospel classic “Just a Closer Walk”
  • France: “The Girl with the Flaxen Hair” by Claude Debussy
  • Great Britain: “Quintet for Brass, Op. 73,” by Sir Malcolm Henry Arnold
  • Russia: A Brass Quintet by Victor Ewald

In Los Angeles, where the event honors composer Stanley Silverman as part of his 80th Birthday year, the ensemble will perform “Variations on a Theme of Kurt Weill,” which Silverman arranged for Brass Quintet and Piano. This one-time performance will feature guest Israeli pianist Ory Shihor.

“Throughout the years we have performed in many combinations of brass ensembles, however this is the first time these five musicians are performing together as a brass quintet,” explained Slatkin. Slatkin, who has been with the Israel Philharmonic for 27 years, said his favorite piece for horn is the “Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, Op. 31” by Benjamin Britten.

“What is unique about the IPO Brass Quintet is that there are no limits to what the group can perform,” he continued. “Anything we want to play, we can play. It’s that way with any combination of Israel Philharmonic Orchestra players, and I am grateful daily to be included in such an amazing pool of talent. My colleagues’ abilities on their instruments are really without limits. Add to that some very creative and active imaginations and we achieve the highest level of artistry.”

Slatkin mentioned that these five musicians were part of the ensemble that performed at the inaugural concert of Zucker Hall, the new chamber music facility within Bronfman Auditorium, the IPO’s home in Tel Aviv.

“The acoustics are wonderful, and we are extremely grateful and lucky to have such an acoustically outstanding hall for our use and for our chamber music subscribers,” he said. “I am very much enjoying the journey, the exploration of endless varieties of styles, periods, and repertoire available for this combination. Rehearsing the music that we have chosen for these three events has been a wonderful experience, as the program we will perform represents the best of music from around the globe! I enjoy very much meeting the supporters of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra on these trips.”



Trumpeter Ram Oren, who has been a member of the orchestra for more than a quarter-century, said his favorite trumpet music is by the great American Big Band leader and trumpeter Harry James. He pointed out that an important aspect of ensemble playing is that the musicians get the opportunity to perform different parts within the arrangements to cover what, for example, might otherwise be a violin line or soprano solo.

“This can be very interesting,” he said. “To use the trumpet in this unique way and perform the main voice instead of supporting lines.

“On these trips to the States,” he added, “I most enjoy meeting and playing for the people who support the IPO. We appreciate this very much and it’s very exciting for me personally.”

Eran Reemy has been playing trumpet with the IPO for the past 13 years. Among his favorite pieces to perform are the orchestral music of Mahler, Bruckner, and R. Strauss, and the baroque solo literature for small trumpet.

“Playing the brass quintet repertoire usually requires enhanced technical and musical skills over standard orchestral playing, as well as greater stamina, which is an important aspect of brass instruments,” he said. “Musical expression is also on a higher level. Ensemble playing in a small group has special demands and I am looking forward to performing for these select audiences.”

Nir Erez, who has played trombone for 20 years, is the newest IPO member in the quintet, having joined the orchestra a decade ago. He said his favorite piece is Ferdinand David’s “Concerto for Trombone, Op. 4,” which he just performed as a soloist with the IPO.

“I enjoy performing in this quintet because of the continuous playing, different roles the trombonist takes on as soloist and group player,” he said. “It’s a very dynamic group. I’m very much looking forward to having a few quiet walks in Central Park in the morning.”

Shmuel (Adi) Hershko began playing tuba 41 years ago. In his 56 years with the orchestra he particularly has enjoyed performing in brass groups with these “very special players.” He echoes Slatkin’s praise of the opening of Zucker Hall last year.

“Zucker Hall is an amazing and beautiful chamber music hall,” he said. “And I am very proud that the Israel Philharmonic has this for our use. It has a wonderful unique sound.”

For more information on the three events, or to contact the AFIPO with questions, visit our 2018 Fall Benefit page.