Back for its 26th year and marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Yehudi Menuhin, the Keshet Eilon Strings Mastercourse is in full swing. Far from the bustle and noise of the city, in a picturesque kibbutz in the Galilee, young musicians from all over the world come to hone their craft in lessons and master classes with renowned teachers – all of which are open to the public.
In fact, visitors to Kibbutz Eilon can completely immerse themselves in the world of music. You can listen in on lessons, attend concerts in the auditorium, and enjoy music and dance in the outdoor performance space called the “Acoustic Shell”. You can watch the BBC’s new documentary film about Yehudi Menuhin himself as well as attend a tribute concert dedicated to him, in which violinist Itzhak Rashkovsky, music director of Keshet Eilon, will narrate the story of Menuhin’s life. You can watch instrument makers restoring and repairing instruments in the Violin- and Bow-making Atelier, and in the sports hall, you can observe the musicians taking lessons in Olympic archery.
Archery?! You read that right – it’s is an important part of the Keshet Eilon course curriculum. Violin teachers realized that there is a similarity between archery and the physical stance and demands of violin playing. They incorporated archery lessons as part of the students’ daily routine, as a way to keep them working without overextending themselves, and also as a way to have fun while working.
Keshet Eilon was founded in 1990. In that year, 12 violinists took part, mostly from the former Soviet Union. Since then, the course has gained international acclaim, expanded to teach violists, cellists and bassists, and hosts around 50 young musicians from 20 countries, and from as far away as South Korea. Keshet Eilon also collaborates with the Al-Kendi Conservatory in Jatt, an Arab town near Haifa. Among the teaching faculty are prominent musicians and pedagogues such as Sergey Ostrovsky, Ani Schnarch, Hillel Zori, Vadim Gluzman and many others.
The founding of Keshet Eilon is rooted in the kibbutz itself, and stems from a cherished musical tradition. Managing Director Gilad Sheba, whose father was one of the kibbutz’s founders, stresses that the work on Keshet Eilon is mostly done by volunteers. It’s a haven, he says, something they all strive to maintain, and the professionalism of everyone involved is combined with the warm family atmosphere of the kibbutz. Hard work has been put into the reconstruction of kibbutz buildings – the auditorium where some of the greatest violinists in the world today have performed used to be a chicken coop. With the generous help of donors, the construction of new dormitory building was completed, where guests may also book a room and enjoy several days of music and tours in the surrounding attractions of the Galilee. The dorms have the feel of a sunny village in Greece – small, white rooms built on the slope of a hill.
For those who can’t make it to Kibbutz Eilon, a Gala Concert will be performed this week at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center (for tickets call 054-373-8887). The concert will highlight Keshet Eilon’s various activities and will include chamber music, Ladino songs, and a flamenco performance.
For more information and tickets, visit www.keshetei.org.il.