Austria’s internationally-acclaimed Salzburg Festival opened a new chapter last weekend when it kicked off the first in an annual series of spiritually-themed “Overtures” with concerts featuring selected pieces from the classical canon composed and performed by Jewish musicians.
The 10-day addition of religiously-inspired programming to the beginning of the five-week performance calendar in the prominent cultural capital and birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was the brainchild of its new artistic director. When Vienna native Alexander Pereira took the position last fall, there was no question how to inaugurate the concert series he’d first envisioned over 30 years ago: “It’s not by chance that we start with Jewish music,” Pereira told the New York Times.
Working with conductor Zubin Mehta, a longtime collaborator with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Pereira curated a program for last Tuesday’s evening concert, one of three central performances of the series. With Mehta conducting, the Israel Philharmonic and Collegiate Chorale of New York played works with significant roots not just in Judaism but also in European Jewish history.