The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is one of Israel’s oldest and most influential cultural institutions. Since its founding in 1936, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra has dedicated itself to presenting the world’s greatest music to audiences in Israel and around the world. Founded by Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra represents the fulfillment of his dream "to unite the desire of the country for an orchestra with the desire of the Jewish musicians for a country." Huberman spent countless hours persuading first-chair musicians of Eastern European and German orchestras, who had lost their jobs as a result of Nazism, to immigrate to Palestine. In doing so, Huberman created an "orchestra of soloists" which, under the esteemed leadership of Zubin Mehta, continues to absorb new immigrants and act as a dynamic, global community for musicians from across the world.
Major soloists and conductors have always performed with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Its inaugural concert was conducted by Arturo Toscanini who felt his participation was a means to demonstrate his opposition to Fascism. Its members traveled in armored cars to play in a besieged Jerusalem during the War of Independence, and, among Israelis, the memory of IPO Laureate Conductor Leonard Bernstein conducting the Orchestra in front of 5,000 soldiers on the Negev dunes after the battle for Beersheba, is an historic moment. Through it all, the Orchestra has enjoyed associations with such renowned artists as Emanuel Ax, Daniel Barenboim, Yefim Bronfman, Yoel Levi, Yo-Yo Ma, Lorin Maazel, Honorary Guest Conductor Kurt Masur, Itzhak Perlman, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Arthur Rubinstein, Gil Shaham, Isaac Stern and Pinchas Zukerman. Their time and talent have enriched the cultural life of Israel and have helped the Orchestra to maintain its high artistic standards.
In celebration of the concurrent 75th anniversaries of both the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s and Music Director Zubin Mehta’s birth years, as well as the 50th anniversary of Maestro Mehta’s conducting debut with the same ensemble, the Orchestra performed eight concerts in seven cities throughout the United States in February 2011. As a 75-year old symbol of cultural diplomacy, the IPO’s tour brought its music and message of peace to concerts in Naples, West Palm Beach, New York City, Newark, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. In 2014, the IPO tours fourteen cities across the United States led by Music Director, Zubin Mehta, and Principal Guest Conductor, Gianandrea Noseda.
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is Israel’s premier cultural ambassador and travels extensively throughout the world, particularly to countries where there is little or no Israeli representation. The goodwill created by these tours, which have included historic visits to Japan, Argentina, Poland, Hungary, Russia, China, and India is of enormous value to the State of Israel. In 2005 the Orchestra traveled to Berlin, Germany to commemorate 40 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany; to London, Paris and Geneva on a tour co-sponsored by the Weizmann and Pasteur Institutes; and, to South America where the Orchestra visited eight cities in 20 days. In April 2013, Maestro Mehta led the IPO with violinist Julian Rachlin in a tribute concert at Poland’s National Opera, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The Orchestra also concluded a momentous South American tour last summer with a free concert for over 12,000 concertgoers and thousands more via international simulcast. Cities on the tour included Santiago (Chile), Bogotá (Colombia), Lima (Peru), and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), which featured a surprise musical appearance by Pinchas Zukerman.
Due to the efforts of American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the generous support of donors worldwide, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra returned to its home at Tel-Aviv's Heichal Hatarbut in March 2013 following extensive renovations. The Mann Auditorium (Heichal Hatarbut) was renamed the Charles R. Bronfman Auditorium and hosted its inaugural gala concert on May 25, 2013.
Currently, the Orchestra gives more than 100 performances each year in Israel to their 26,000 subscribers, where 14 different concert series are presented in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. The IPO KeyNote Education and Outreach Program brings classical music to the audience of the future through music.
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