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Music Venue

Orit Wolf performing in Ashdod. Photo by D. Miller

Orit Wolf performing in Ashdod. Photo by D. Miller

Award-winning Israeli musician Orit Wolf believes that to survive in the 21st century business world, ‘you have to be amazing, just like a performer.’

By Abigail Klein Leichman

Israeli concert pianist Orit Wolf was barely out of her teens when disaster struck 12 minutes into a live recording and concert in Jerusalem: She blanked out and froze.

“I was always told ‘the show must go on’ but nobody told me how to do that, how to turn a mistake into an opportunity and how to improvise. I stopped the music and it was such a shameful occasion,” recalls Wolf.

Today, the poised pianist performs across the world and leads internationally sought-after workshops using music to teach businesses innovation, problem-solving, management, public speaking, coping with change, the power of persuasion and the art of disruption.

“I realized that if I want to be on stage I’ve got to have the right tools to turn any mistake into something beautiful. So I started to learn composition and improvisation and it was like buying an insurance policy that no matter what happens I can go on and do a lovely performance even if I don’t have my notes or forgot the music or the piano is really bad, or my hands are sweaty or the audience is noisy,” she tells ISRAEL21c.

Her research following that ruined concert convinced her that “there was something in music-making that could give insights to so many professions on how to go on no matter what happens.”

Wolf was only 23 when an executive from Israeli pharma giant Teva audited one of her classes at Tel Aviv University about music and innovation, and persuaded her to start lecturing to businesses.

Over the past decade, she’s worked with banks, insurance companies, colleges and firms such as Verint, Matrix, Check Point, Strauss, Coca-Cola, HP, IBM, Bayer, Lilly, FedEx and Netafim. Her concert lectures have taken her to countries including Holland, Switzerland, England, Germany, Spain and Austria. This fall she’s returned to her alma mater, the Royal Academy of Music in London, to teach a course called “Leadership for Stage Performers.”

Below is a presentation Wolf gave at the UK Marketing Society’s 2014 annual conference.

“I don’t teach strategies you can read in a book,” Wolf says. “I give tools to create disruptions, to improvise and deliver your message in a more experienced and inspiring way. To survive in the 21st century you have to be amazing, just like a performer. It’s easy to show on the piano how you can take the same text or score and transform it.”

In one exercise, Wolf asks participants to write on paper for three minutes and to make intentional spelling mistakes. She then analyzes results in a 45-minute presentation.

“What we learn is that the average person makes 20 mistakes in 40 words. People who make more mistakes than words, say 20 words with 40 mistakes, are less afraid to break paradigms. And what kind of mistakes they make shows different ways of breaking the paradigm. It’s very interesting for me to see how far people are allowing themselves to go.”

Another exercise has the group telling an improvised story passed from one to the next, in which every other word must be spoken in a different language. For example, instead of “good morning” you might say “good boker.”

“I have about 80 different exercises like those to break your paradigms on emotional, mental and cognitive levels. We create a situation where you will not be afraid to be cognitively embarrassed. This trains you to have the courage and self-confidence to deliver your next presentation beautifully even if you have technical problems.”

Born leader

Orit Wolf persuaded her parents to send her for piano lessons when she was six. Gifted in many areas, she finished high school at 16 and by age 23 had acquired a bachelor’s degree from Boston University on full scholarship, a master’s degree from the Royal Academy of Music and a PhD from Bar-Ilan University, along with numerous piano awards.

She then taught innovation through music at Tel Aviv University for eight years despite never having studied leadership, marketing or business management.

“I’m dedicating my life to showing people things they can do to become more creative and how to leave an unforgettable mark in whatever it is they do.”

Orit Wolf in duet with opera singer Assaf Kacholi. Photo: courtesy

Orit Wolf in duet with opera singer Assaf Kacholi. Photo: courtesy

When the university discontinued her award-winning course for budgetary reasons, she was jolted out of one of her own paradigms – the false sense of job security – and turned her disappointment into an opportunity to do concert lectures.

“I started in a small Jaffa museum with 60 subscribers in 2006. Now I have over 4,000 annual subscribers for eight series I perform at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Haifa Auditorium, Rehovot, Ashdod and Ra’anana,” says Wolf, who encourages audiences to record, photograph, share and tweet her performance as long as their phones are in silent mode.

She also has a new series for English-speakers, Music and Muse, at Weil Auditorium in Kfar Shmaryahu.

Wolf confides that on occasion she takes her seven- and nine-year-old children to her concerts instead of school.

“The idea of obeying rules all the time, I think, is wrong. Breaking rules sometimes helps people think more clearly and changes how they look at things.”

For more information, click here.

Award-winning Israeli concert pianist teaches managers to disrupt and innovate

Archeologist Joe Uziel in the newly discovered Roman theater near the Western Wall. Photo courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority

Archeologist Joe Uziel in the newly discovered Roman theater near the Western Wall. Photo courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority

After 1,700 years, dramatic discovery changes archaeologists’ entire understanding of Jerusalem after the destruction of the Second Temple.

By Brian Blum

Jewish historian Josephus Flavius told of a small Roman-era theater built in the vicinity of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. But no one had seen it for nearly two millennia. Archaeologists beginning with Charles William Wilson have been searching for that theater for 150 years to no avail.

Because the theater is located under a roofed space, the archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority note that the theater was probably an odeon for acoustic performances.

Now it seems they’ve found it.

As happens so often in archaeology, the theater’s discovery was by accident. Diggers were excavating a known Second Temple road under Wilson’s Arch (named for the British archaeologist) when they ran into flat stones placed unusually in a circle. It wasn’t an ancient traffic circle but a Roman theater which, when it was finally uncovered, changed archaeologists’ entire understanding of Jerusalem after the destruction of the Second Temple.

“We saw there was leisure, entertainment under Wilson’s Arch,” explained archaeologist Tehilla Lieberman, who described the discovery as “unbelievable” and “a real drama.”

Because the theater is located under a roofed space, the archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority note that the theater was probably an odeon for acoustic performances. (Or it may have been a “bouleuterion,” a building where the city council met.)

That said, the theater was probably never used. The stairs are not fully hewn and there are rocks that have guide marks but weren’t fully carved, explained archaeologist Joe Uziel during a press conference earlier this week.

What could have interrupted the theater’s construction? Uziel speculates perhaps it was the Bar Kochba Revolt, which resulted in the banning of Jews entirely from Jerusalem around 136 CE.

Archeologist Tehilla Lieberman in the newly discovered Roman theater near the Western Wall. Photo courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority

Archeologist Tehilla Lieberman in the newly discovered Roman theater near the Western Wall. Photo courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority

The theater’s placement also suggests the theater may have been built as an insult to the former Jewish presence on the Temple Mount: its seats were arranged so that audience members would have their backs to the former center of Jewish worship and power.

It also appears that the paving stones from the Second Temple road the archaeologists were excavating were repurposed for benches in the theater, and a drainage duct was lowered to make way for the seating.

The theater’s discovery, while important, still doesn’t shed light on the ongoing mystery of what was happening on the Temple Mount in the period between the destruction of the Second Temple and Muslim rule. For example, was a Temple of Jupiter built on the mount?

No evidence has been found, in part because excavations are not permitted on the Temple Mount itself. (The archaeologists stressed that the dig did not extend under the Temple Mount.)

The theater is relatively small compared to other Roman theaters in the Holy Land, such as those at Caesarea, Beit She’an and Beit Guvrin.

The theater remained elusive for so many years because it was buried eight meters under the current ground level of the Western Wall. Following a massive earthquake in 360 CE, Jerusalem residents – concerned that the arch would collapse – filled in the area with dirt and debris.

The theater will eventually be opened to the public as part of the Western Wall Tunnel Tour. Excavation work will continue for another six months. The archaeologists hope to connect the water drainage system in the area of the theater to the one in the nearby City of David, creating a new attraction for visitors.

The archaeologists’ findings will be presented at the “New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region” conference this week at the Hebrew University.

Article courtesy of  www.Israel21c.org

Article courtesy of www.Israel21c.org

Ancient Roman Theater Uncovered Next to Western Wall

Poster for Israeli Jazz & World Music Festival.

The Israeli jazz scene has received much international notice recently, with such stars as bassist Omer Avital, trombonist Avi Lebovich, pianist Omer Klein, and the three brilliant Cohen siblings Anat (clarinet), Avishai (trumpet), and Yuval (saxophone)—all graduates of Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts.

Israel has produced and exported so many serious young musicians that the jazz landscape is hard to picture without their influence.
— Nate Chinen, New York Times

Ramat HaSharon is home to the influential Rimon School of  Music (which partners with Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music), and Tel Aviv’s Israel Conservatory of Music has a thriving Center for Jazz Studies. Jazz can be heard in nightclubs and concert halls in every major Israeli city, and at annual gatherings such as the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, which has been drawing crowds of music lovers to this southernmost point in the country since 1987. 

In recent years, the United States has been catching on to the potential of jazz from this region: Chicago hosts the annual Israeli Jazz and World Music Festival, and New York was the site of the Jazzrael festival in 2012, as well as of 2016’s Israeli Jazz Spotlight Festival. As New York Times jazz critic Nate Chinen has observed: “Over the last fifteen years, Israel has produced and exported so many serious young musicians that the jazz landscape is hard to picture without their influence.”

Israel Conservatory of Music >

Israeli Jazz and World Music Festival (in Chicago) >

Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music >

 

Israeli Jazz on the World Scene

Elstein Music and Arts Center Instagram

Today, a new institution, the Elstein Music and Arts Center, is a nucleus for both visual and performing arts—the brainchild of Lily Elstein, one of Israel’s most important arts patrons. The enter is part of the Elma Arts Complex, in the historic town of Zichron Ya’acov, on a ridge of Mount Carmel overlooking the Mediterranean. The main headquarters are in a beautiful building designed by architect Yaakov Rechter, originally as the Mivtachim Sanatorium/Hotel. (Built in 1968, it earned Rechter the prestigious Israel Prize for architecture.) Long, white, and gently curved, it rests horizontally on the hillside—as Lily Elstein herself describes it, “like an instrument: like the keys of a piano or an organ.” The renovated complex, set on nearly thirty acres, includes performance spaces and halls, art galleries and studios, villas to house artists in residence, and a luxurious hotel and spa for visiting audiences.

I really belong to this place. I belong to the art and the life of art in Israel.
— Lily Elstein

Elstein is an elegant and gracious woman, with a tenacious streak. Her connection to Zichron Ya’acov is long:standing she was born there, and her late husband, Yoel Moshe Elstein, and she both descended from the town’s fathers.  When Elstein expressed an interest in buying the old Mivtachim Hotel, she encountered a number of obstacles, from developers attempting to outbid her to objections against marring the local forest areas with construction. Ultimately, Israel’s High Court of Justice was called in to decide the fate of the land and building. Elstein says: “I explained to them: ‘I am third-generation Zichron Ya’acov. My grandparents were founders, and my parents were born there. I really belong to this place. I belong to the art and the life of art in Israel.’” Ultimately, she overcame them all, and today the Zichron Ya’acov community is well aware that her project is a boon to the area—and to the arts in general in Israel.

Elstein Music and Arts Center, Elma Arts Complex >

The Elstein Music and Arts Center and the Extraordinary Woman Behind It

Kartel collective poster

Haifa has a population that is notably mixed, ethnically and socially, as well as a growing youth culture (sometimes nicknamed “Haifsters”). Recently, the city has seen the emergence of a vibrant new “posse” of artists known as Kartel, who initially used an abandoned boathouse in the city as part-club, part-gallery, part-blank slate for street art: its tall exterior walls painted from bottom to top with wild hallucinatory images. Their venues feature live performances and pop-up exhibitions. The creative energy behind this endeavor comes from two local groups of underground street artists: GhosTown and Broken Fingaz (whose individual members, as of this writing, prefer to go unnamed).

Kartel initially used an abandoned boathouse in Haifa as part-club, part-gallery, part-blank slate for street art

The posse recently made a foray into Tel Aviv, setting up shop temporarily in a former slaughterhouse at the Carmel shuk. There the renegade artists and their associates painted the walls with acid-bright cartoons—stylized nude women, skeletons, and men in fedoras figure prominently—and hosted an international roster of musicians, including Adrian Younge, Free the Robots, and Kutmah.

If you can find a Kartel flash event, it may well be worth your while to lace up your boots and get to it.

Kartel Facebook page > 

Haifa’s Kartel: A Posse of Renegade Street Artists