Click here to listen to the concert on Radio SRF 2 Kultur
On 25 January 2024, the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra (LFCO) performed the opening concert for the 10th anniversary of the Mizmorim Kammermusik Festival under the baton of conductor Tito Ceccherini.
Based in Basel, the Mizmorim Kammermusik Festival a multi-day chamber music event celebrating the diverse encounters between Jewish music and Western art music. For the anniversary edition, a concert with a full orchestra was be on the program for the first time and Lucerne Festival is delighted that the LFCO was invited to Basel for this occasion.
The evening before opening night, the duo WOVEN with William Overcash (violin) and Nathan Watts (cello), both members of the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra (LFCO), set the mood for the anniversary edition with a pre-concert.
To open the festival, the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra (LFCO), led by Italian conductor Tito Ceccherini, performed works by Leonard Bernstein, Helga Arias and Steve Reich. At the request of Mizmorim's artistic director Michal Lewkowicz, the Israeli national anthem Hatikva ("Hope") was played before the actual concert program. A poignant moment of remembrance for all the victims of the terrible conflict in Israel and Palestine.
Violinist Ilya Gringolts was the soloist in Leonard Bernstein's Serenade after Plato's Symposium, which premiered in 1954. Gringolts has been artistic advisor to the Mizmorim Kammermusik Festival since 2023. He has also maintained a close relationship with the Lucerne Festival for many years: In addition to numerous performances as a soloist as well as a member of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Gringolts' I&I Foundation regularly commissions new works for the Lucerne Debut Series.
The second part of the concert opened with the world premiere of Helga Arias' Mimma'amaqim ("Out of the Depths") for voices and ensemble. The commission for this work for the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra (LFCO) was a collaboration between the Mizmorim Kammermusik Festival and the Lucerne Festival; the selection committee consisted of representatives from both festivals. In Mimma'amaquin, Arias set the 130th psalm "Out of the depths have I cried unto thee" in Hebrew, Latin, German and English. The vocal parts were performed by singers from the Basler Madrigalisten.
The final work on the concert program, Tehillim by Steve Reich, was performed with the same instrumentation (female voices and ensemble). "The performance of this rhythmically complex work by the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra and the Basler Madrigalisten under the sovereign conducting of Tito Ceccherini is an exceptional experience. The precisely clapped, drummed and rattled rhythms never stand still, but develop an enormous pull that carries the whole ensemble. The chords of the strings provide calm, the harmonic changes are spot on. The vocals are sometimes meditative in their continuous repetition, sometimes dance-like and lively. The crystalline soprano of Annelise Ellars hovers above everything, her voice losing none of its quality even on the three-note C. The 'Hallelujah' at the end seems almost otherwordly in its spectacular height and brightness. Music as utopia. And as hope for a brighter world," the NZZ wrote in their concert review.
The concert was recorded by Swiss Radio and Television and broadcast on 1 February 2024 on Radio SRF 2 Kultur in the trilingual music program "Pavillon Suisse". During the interval and after the concert, the presenters met the participants of the event in the foyer of the Stadtcasino Basel for a discussion.