Yale Celebrates Israel's 50th Anniversary with Music

Yale University will host the world premiere of a specially commissioned symphonic work by Ezra Laderman, professor of composition at the Yale School of Music, on May 2, 9 p.m., in Woolsey Hall, corner of Grove and College streets. The concert, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, is free and open to the public.

The piece, titled “Yisrael,” the Hebrew name for Israel, will be performed by the Yale Philharmonia under the baton of Lawrence Leighton Smith. A symphony in three movements, it is melodic, accessible and highly personal, with echoes of traditional Jewish folk and liturgical music. The work was commissioned by the family of Max M. Fisher in honor of his 90th birthday.

Fisher, a Detroit-based industrialist and philanthropist, is the founding chairman of the reconstituted Jewish Agency for Israel and served as the Agency’s chairman for 12 years. He was national chairman of the United Jewish Appeal during the 1967 Six Day War and has served as an advisor to Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Bush. Even as he celebrates his 90th, he remains active in national and international Jewish affairs.

Also on the program will be cellist Inbal Megiddo, a senior at Yale, performing Bloch’s “Schelomo.” Bloch wrote the piece between 1915-1916 and referred to it as “a Hebraic rhapsody for cello and orchestra.”

“We are delighted that the Laderman concert stands as the centerpiece of Yale’s Salute to Israel at 50,” said Rabbi James Ponet, Jewish Chaplain at Yale. “In 4000 years of Jewish history three Jewish states have been established in the land of Israel. The jubilee year of this reborn Jewish state deserves our celebration and reflection. Israel says to the world, ‘It is never too late to begin again.”

Explaining that “Yisrael” reflects Israel today, not the Israel of myth, Laderman said, “In spite of the obstacles which have beset the peace process, the rifts and conflicts at the heart of Israeli politics and the ravages of terrorism and counter-terrorism, Israel has persevered. Say what you will, Israel at 50 teaches the world the meaning of the will to survive. My symphonic work is a serious piece of public music.”

Other compositions by Laderman have had historic significance. In 1973, CBS-TV commissioned him to write a piece to celebrate Israel’s 25th anniversary. That work was premiered by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in Jerusalem and broadcast throughout the world. While serving in the United States Army in World War II, Laderman composed the “Leipzig Symphony,” which was performed in Weisbaden in 1945.

Laderman was dean of the Yale School of Music from 1989-1995 and has served as president of both the American Music Center and the National Music Council. In addition, he has been chair of the Composer-Librettist Program of the National Endowment for the Arts and director of its music program. A recipient of three Guggenheim fellowships as well as the Prix de Rome, Laderman was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1991.

Megiddo, a resident of New Haven and Jerusalem, is studying at Yale with renowned cellist Aldo Parisot, professor of music. She has performed in Europe, Asia and America. By invitation of the government of Singapore, she gave a solo performance to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. In 1995, she performed at the Yitzhak Rabin memorial service in Madison Square Garden in New York City. She has earned many awards, beginning in 1983 at the age of 6, when she won a scholarship from the Avi’ezer Foundation, the Max Veron Jerusalem Fund, and the America Israel Cultural Foundation, under the patronage of Isaac Stern. At Yale,she won first prize in the Friends of Music Competition and, in 1997, received the Seldon Memorial Prize, given to the undergraduate who shows the highest musical ability.

Other celebrations of Israel’s 50th anniversary at Yale have included a discussion by Israeli poet Yehudah Amichai and American Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, a concert by Israeli rock star David Broza, a national Model Knesset in which college students recreated the first meeting of Israel’s legislature, and a panel, “Israel at 50: Where Has it Been? Where is it Going?” sponsored by the Yale Center for International and Area Studies. In September 1998, Jerusalem-based philosopher David Hartman will deliver the Terry Lectures at Yale Divinity School on the theological implications of a reborn Jewish state.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325