July 26 - The Israel Chamber Orchestra breaks with a long-standing taboo becoming the first Israeli orchestra to perform Wagner in Germany. Tara Cleary reports.
The Israel Chamber Orchestra plays Wagner's "Siegfried Idyll" at the annual Wagner opera festival in Bayreuth. The delicate strains made all the more poignant because it's the first time an Israeli orchestra has played Wagner in Germany. Adolf Hitler's favourite composer has largely been kept off Israel's airwaves since before that country's formation. And previous attempts to perform Wagner in Israel have triggered heated public debate. This performance is a sign of understanding says Bayreuth's mayor, Michael Hohl. SOUNDBITE: Mayor of Bayreuth, Michael Hohl, saying (German): "It is an olive branch and I think it is also encouragement for all of those who work in this area to intensify their efforts. For us, in the town of Bayreuth, it is of course an impetus to not let our efforts in dealing with Bayreuth's past drift off, but rather that we step up our efforts." And head of Israel's Wagner Society, Yonatan Livni agrees. SOUNDBITE: Yonatan Livni, Head of Israel's Wagner Society, saying (English): "Art and culture are the foremost, supreme thing and political issues should not involve anything that has to do with the performance of art and culture and any kind of boycott, wherever it is, I'm against and I think that that was one step in the right direction." Even though Wagner died half a century before Hitler rose to power, the Nazi dictator was a fervent admirer and drew on the composer's writings in his own theories on Germanic racial purity. But for better or worse, this orchestra is focusing on the music. Tara Cleary, Reuters.