Tel Aviv, Feb 25 (PTI) Israel Philharmonic Orchestra led by renowned India-born conductor Zubin Mehta performed a special concert here on Friday to celebrate the 30 years of India-Israel diplomatic relations.
The concert was held in front of a packed auditorium at Heichal HaTarbut, also known in English as the Culture Palace, officially the Charles Bronfman Auditorium, which is the largest concert hall in Tel Aviv and home to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
The event was part of the year-long celebrations marking 30 years of full diplomatic relations between India and Israel. India is also celebrating the 75th anniversary of its independence this year.
Mumbai-born Mehta, the first non-Jewish recipient of Israel’s Presidential Awards of Distinction, the Israeli equivalent of the French Legion of Honour or the Order of Canada, amidst standing ovation acknowledged the presence of Indian ambassador Sanjeev Singla and praised the establishment of India-Israel diplomatic relations 30 years ago.
In his brief remarks at the start of the concert, the famed conductor said that he had been a big supporter of India-Israel relations since the beginning.
Mehta, 85, kicked off the programme by orchestrating the national anthems of Israel and India, something he had done in 1994 in India, two years after the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
In a promotional booklet, Singla praised the initiative of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, saying it was only befitting that the maestro was himself conducting the concert to commemorate the milestone.
“The true poets, they who are seers, seek to express the universe in terms of music”, Singla wrote quoting Rabindranath Tagore.
“Perhaps the greatest living example of the warm people-to-people relations between India and Israel is Mr. Zubin Mehta whose genius is celebrated in both countries equally. When he brought the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to India in 1994, soon after the full diplomatic relations were established, it was a befitting homecoming”, the Indian envoy noted.
“I am, therefore, delighted that on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of full diplomatic relations between India and Israel – that coincides with the 75th anniversary of India’s independence – the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is dedicating a concert to commemorate these two historic milestones, conducted by the maestro himself”, he added.
Acknowledging the rich contribution of the Indian Jewish community to the nation-building process in India as traders, businessmen, educators, doctors, administrators, poets and artists, Singla said India had honoured many of them with its highest awards.
“Thirty years ago, India and Israel opened a new chapter of possibilities in their history. By fully upgrading their diplomatic ties, they set on a new course that sought to harness the swell of new currents and the sweep of new winds,” the senior diplomat said.
“Their journey together, however, was not new. For, a small Jewish community had existed and thrived in India for centuries – something rare in Jewish history which doesn’t have too many long, continuous periods in which Jews have flourished in freedom and equality, as they did in India”, he emphasised.
Mehta is Music Director Emeritus of the Orchestra and for decades the lead face of it.
“Zubin you came here to conduct an orchestra but you became the conductor of our hearts. You know I can’t think of anybody else who has offered such a unique contribution to our country, to our people and to our mood. You have shown leadership, a leader was born to elate the spirit and the hopes of the people”, Israel’s Nobel laureate President Shimon Peres had said while conferring Israel’s Presidential Awards of Distinction on him in 2012.
“That’s what you did. Israel used to be a drama and you made us into a dramatic symphony without compromising one for the other. You made our people feel at ease, feel together through the language of music. You and the orchestra carried a flag of friendship across the world and represented our country in an unbelievable manner”, the Israeli leader said praising Mehta’s contribution to the Israeli society.
“Music conducted by you became a message for peace, a message of hope. I feel honoured and privileged to express from the depth of our hearts our thanks to a person who is so unique”, he had stressed.
The award is bestowed upon those who have made an outstanding contribution to the State of Israel or to humanity, through their talents, services, or in any other form. HM MRJ MRJ
This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.