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JERUSALEM SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA TO PERFORM AT BARD’S FISHER CENTER Under Music Director and Conductor Leon Botstein, U.S. Tour Brings Internationally Renowned JSO to the Hudson Valley

Mark Primoff
“Something phenomenal is taking place in the concerts of the Discovery Series Botstein is not afraid, and he sweeps the audience up with him.” --Ma'ariv (Jerusalem)

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— On Saturday, March 11, at 8:00 p.m., Leon Botstein, music director and conductor of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra (JSO), brings the JSO to the Richard B. Fisher Center for Performing Arts at Bard College, where it will perform in the acoustically superb Sosnoff Theater. The concert, part of the JSO’s 20-city U.S. tour, represents the first time this internationally renowned orchestra has performed in the Hudson Valley region. The program will feature Martinů’s Memorial to Lidice; Strauss’s Concerto in D Major for Oboe and Orchestra, Laura Albeck, oboe; and Prokofiev’s Symphony Number 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 100.

Tickets are $20, $35, and $45, and are available at the Fisher Center box office or by calling 845-758-7900 or visiting the Fisher Center website at

Leon Botstein took the reins of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, national radio orchestra of the Israel Broadcasting Company, in July 2003. At the end of the first season, which featured Botstein conducting five of the JSO’s first six subscription concerts, concert attendance was up, younger listeners were discovering the JSO for the first time, and financial support – from home and abroad – was on the increase.

Press reports enthusiastically praised both the innovative programming and the greatly improved quality of the performances. A critic for Ma’ariv lauded “the new sound at the Jerusalem Orchestra,” noting, “this time the orchestra and its management have chosen a person who can answer the real needs of the orchestra at this time.” Ha’aretz called Botstein’s concerts “the hottest thing in Israel this season.”

A critic for the Jerusalem Post reported:
“In the new ‘Musical Discoveries’ series of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, conductor Leon Botstein aims to acquaint the audience with unfamiliar, little-known works. This approach is a welcome and refreshing change from the conventional repertoire, and the orchestra, obviously intrigued by Botstein’s novel ideas of programming, took the performance of these unfamiliar works as a challenge and rendered them in an amazingly impressive as well as accurate way.”

About Leon Botstein
In addition to his post in Jerusalem, Leon Botstein has been music director of the American Symphony Orchestra for 13 years. Together with the ASO, Botstein presents concerts in New York’s Avery Fisher Hall – part of Lincoln Center’s prestigious “Great Performers” series – and at the Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts in New York’s historic Hudson Valley. Botstein, who is president of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, is also founder and co-artistic director of the Bard Music Festival, and, with the American Symphony, conducts the annual opera presented by the SummerScape Festival at the Fisher Center. In the just-published issue of New York magazine, critic Peter G. Davis selected Botstein’s concerts with the ASO as one of the best-programmed music series in New York City. Reviewing one of last season’s concerts, New York Times critic Bernard Holland reported that “[Botstein’s] orchestra was sounding better than I can ever remember it.” Another Times critic, Allan Kozinn, described the performance of Botstein and the ASO’s 2005-06 season-opening concert as “spectacular.” Botstein is also a busy recording artist, working with such ensembles as the American Symphony Orchestra, NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg, London Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra. His recording with the LSO of Gavriil Popov’s epic Symphony No. 1 and Shostakovich’s Theme and Variations, Op. 3, for Telarc, recently received a Grammy nomination for Best Orchestral Performance.

What the Critics are saying about Botstein and the JSO

“Leon Botstein continues to open the audience’s ears. To take the listeners out of the automatic pilot routine that dominates the concert halls, to make them to sit up in their seats, and not only search for the enjoyment in the music, but mostly to think about it. That calls for courage. A music director needs courage in order to break out of the opening-concerto-symphony mold and perform five concertos instead; a really scandalous program. It takes bravura to choose works that few have heard of before, and not be afraid to allow players from the orchestra perform as soloists. His daring succeeds again and again, and the Musical Discoveries concert captivated the audience in spite of its unconventionality.” — Ha’aretz, November 3, 2005

“We take off our hat to the Jerusalem Symphony orchestra and its Musical Director, Leon Botstein. Bucking convention, [they] do not flinch from presenting audiences, again and again, with musically and intellectually daring and challenging programs.” — Ha'aretz, March 6, 2005

"Botstein has brought a revolution to Jerusalem.” — Ma’ariv November 23, 2004

The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra
The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra was founded in the 1940s as the national radio orchestra and was known as the "Kol Israel Orchestra.” In the 1970s, the orchestra expanded and became the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Israel Broadcasting Authority. Since its inception, the orchestra has had six musical directors: Mendi Rodan, Lukas Foss, Gary Bertini, Lawrence Foster, David Shallon, and from 2003, Leon Botstein.

Since its inauguration, the orchestra's repertoire has comprised an exciting combination of the masterpieces of the past and the most exciting musical compositions written in our generation. The orchestra was the first to perform in Israel the works of Sofia Gubaidulina, Henri Dutilleux, Alfred Schnittke and others. The JSO has always encouraged Israeli composers by commissioning and performing their works. Currently its composer in residence is Betty Olivero.

Through the years, some of the greatest musicians have performed with the orchestra, including Arthur Rubinstein, Igor Markevitch, Otto Klemperer, Henryk Szeryng, Isaac Stern, Radu Lupu and Yefim Bronfman. One of the most notable premieres performed by the orchestra was The Seven Gates of Jerusalem by Polish composer Krzystof Penderecki, conducted by Maestro Lorin Maazel, which was composed for the finale of the Jerusalem 3000 celebrations. This was a joint venture with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra. The work was again performed by the two orchestras in Munich in April 2000 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bavarian Radio.

The JSO presents four concert series every season. The Musical Discoveries Series features both masterpieces and rare works by 19th- and 20th-century composers. This series is conducted by Maestro Botstein and can be heard on radio stations throughout the United States. The orchestra also offers the more traditional Classical Series; The Oratorios Series in collaboration with the opera house Tel Aviv-Yaffo; and the Do Re Mix Series for children and their families. The orchestra also performs each year during the Israel Festival. It participated in the International Opera Festival in the Roman amphitheater in Caesarea: In May 2000 the orchestra performed Turandot by Puccini and in June 2001 took part in a production of La Forza del Destino by Verdi.

The orchestra has often toured Europe and the United States, and has played in some of the most prestigious venues, including Vienna, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Luzerne and New York. The orchestra also records regularly. Its next major recording project is a CD for the Milken Archive of Jewish Music.

The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra's 2006 tour is made possible by the American Friends of the Jerusalem Symphony, the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, the Crown Family Foundation, and the Jerusalem Foundation.

Promotional support generously provided by WMHT-FM CLASSICAL MUSIC RADIO 89.1, 88.7, 97.7.

For further information and tickets, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit the website at

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This event was last updated on 06-14-2006