When Star Trek and M*A*S*H* Meet at Israel Philharmonic Gala

What a surprise to see Leonard Nimoy — “Star Trek”’s ever logical Mr. Spock — beamed onto Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully’s Hall’s stage to the strains of John “Williams ’ theme for “Schindler’s List” at the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s October 29th benefit. Nimoy set forth the IPO’s remarkable evolution from its 1933 nascence in Palestine — including violinist Bronislaw Huberman’s vision to bring Jewish musicians from Europe to safety — to its present world-class prominence.

Addressing the nearly 500 strong multi-generational audience as “our partners” AFIPO president David Hirsch cheerfully declared: “Our orchestra is getting younger—unique for orchestras. It is our gift to the next generation—a modern day miracle [the IPO] educates 30M Israeli children each year.”

Under the animated baton and bow of violinist/ conductor Julian Rachlin, the IPO’s streamlined string section — including a lute — launched the stellar evening with the orchestra on its feet performing a stirring version of “The Star Spangled Banner” followed by a spine tingling “Hatikvah” with members of the audience joining in singing both anthems.

Alan Alda

Image: Karen Leon

Alan Alda

Another joy was actor, writer, director Alan Alda who prefaced each of the seasonal movements of the evening’s centerpiece work — Antonio Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” Op. 8 — with a reading from an appropriate poem selected by Mr. Rachlin: Lord Tennyson’s “Spring” as lead-in for Vivaldi’s “Spring;” William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ prefaced “Summer;” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Autumn Feelings” introduced “Fall,” and Robert Frost’s “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” with its mnemonically resonating final lines : “…and miles to go before I sleep” imaged “Winter.” . The IPO’s audience-pleasing encores included George Gershwin’s “The Man I Love” with a tempo that hinted at a Ginger Rogers/ Fred Astaire cinema dance duet.

At the sumptuous post-concert buffet party, chatted with Vilnius-born conductor Rachlin with whom I exchanged the first two lines of the Lithuanian national anthem. Rachlin laughed…That’s about all the Lithuanian he remembered.

Among the guests at the event — which was underwritten by Emily and Eugene Grant were benefactors Ingeborg and Ira Rennert, Rita and Charles Bronfman, Lauren and John Veronis.

Close