Expanded programs are helping the IPO Education Department reach more children in 2018.
KeyNote, the Israel Philharmonic’s dynamic Music Education and Community Outreach Department, is expanding existing programs and introducing several new ones. The wider range of interactive experiences – from full orchestra concerts in Bronfman Auditorium to IPO musicians visiting schools across Israel – will add to the tens of thousands of children of all ages and ethnicities who annually benefit from KeyNote.
Instrument Day, one of KeyNote’s oldest programs, has grown significantly thanks to a donation from the Gottesman Family. The program, which historically had one event per year, focuses on one instrument or section at a time, going back to Itzhak Perlman leading 500 young violinists in “The Four Seasons” in 2000.
“We will now have at least two Instrument Days each year, one with the orchestra and one without,” KeyNote Founding Director Irit Rub said early last month. “It inspires children to practice more and be more enthusiastic about playing. Especially those who live far from Tel Aviv and don’t get the opportunity to attend an orchestra concert or understand professional musical standards.”
For 2018, there will already have been two Instrument Days by the end of April. Low Brass Day attracted nearly 150 young baritone, trombone, and tuba students to the new Zucker Chamber Music Hall on February 14, and on April 30 Sophie Dartigalongue, the Vienna Philharmonic’s principal bassoon player, will take part in Oboe and Bassoon Day, a collaboration with Jerusalem Music Center.
“Hearing the orchestra is something that gives the children a lot of motivation,” said Rub, referring to last November’s Young Trumpet Players Day, which drew 300 student musicians for workshops and participation in a trumpet concerto with the full orchestra. “But seeing hundreds of other children with trumpets in their hands makes them feel they’re not alone. There are many, many children playing like them and when they play together it’s thrilling.”
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“The first concert, in late January, was very, very successful and our next concerts, featuring ‘Peter and the Wolf,’ ‘The Carnival of the Animals,’ and other pieces, are already filling up. People really like the idea of listening to the orchestra with their children.” Rub said.
The day we spoke with the KeyNote Director, she had just attended another new program in which, thanks to funding from the Gainsford Family, IPO musicians visited El Rashediya, the Arab School in Lod.
“I was there to see the sessions with musicians from the orchestra,” she said. “I was so impressed with the children. They really knew the pieces and were really interested. Even though they spoke Arabic and our musicians spoke Hebrew, they were so wonderful communicating with each other.”
Also in February, KeyNote introduced a program of concerts for elementary schools called “The Musical Guide to Dungeons and Dragons.”
“The music is still Stravinsky and Beethoven and Mozart,” Rub said. “But the story around it has to do with the Dungeons and Dragons game. One of our moderators wrote the program and the children are crazy about it. Through the game they get very, very involved with the music.”
Following the success of the Israel Philharmonic’s first International Education Conference, which focused the world’s music education community on Tel Aviv in May 2017, there is hope for a second conference.
“The conference went very well,” Rub said. “It really gave people in Israel and abroad a wonderful opportunity to exchange ideas and learn about our initiatives.”
She hopes that a second conference, perhaps in 2020, would include recognition of Maestro Zubin Mehta, who not only gave his support as Honorary President of the first conference, but has enriched both KeyNote and the Tel Aviv University Buchmann-Mehta School of Music that bears his name.
It would also be an opportunity to introduce the global education community to Lahav Shani, who takes over as Music Director in 2019-20 and whose own education is something the KeyNote Director had a hand in.
In the 1990s, Rub was pianist of the Tel Aviv Philharmonic Choir, whose conductor was Shani’s father, Michael Shani.
“One day,” Rub recalled, “Michael said to me, ‘Listen, I have a 3-year-old genius at home. You must come and listen to him.’ And I replied, ‘Ah yes, you’re like all the fathers with geniuses.’ He said, ‘Come and see: Tell me if I’m crazy.’
“So I went,” she continued. “Lahav was only 3 and his feet didn’t come close to the pedals. But he was really playing the piano. He was not able to read yet but he was playing, inventing and playing by ear from everything he’d heard. I was amazed and said, ‘For once the father knows what he’s talking about.'”
Though Rub declined the elder Shani’s request that she become Lahav’s piano teacher, she connected him with a very good instructor with whom he did study.
“And,” she laughed, “the rest is history.”
*Above, video of November 2017 Trumpet Instrument Day, and photos from the Low Brass Day on February 14. (Photographer: Shai Skiff)