ARC Ensemble’s Groundbreaking Album Dedicated to Ben-Haim’s Chamber Works

ARC Ensemble, the ensemble-in-residence of Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music, has released an album dedicated to the acclaimed Israeli composer Paul Ben-Haim. The album comes three years after the ensemble’s brilliant performance in Pro Musica Hebraica’s concert War and Exile: The Music of Berman, Braunfels, and Ben-Haim.

The Jewish Journal spoke with ARC artistic director (and PMH adviser) Simon Wynberg about the project, as well as the meaning of Ben-Haim’s music in light of his experience as a German immigrant in the fledgling state of Israel:

“Ben-Haim was Israel’s best-known national composer,” Wynberg said, “and I wondered why so much of his music was still unexplored.”….

“Ben-Haim’s musical language changed when he arrived in Israel. He heard things he wouldn’t have heard in Germany — folk tunes, traditional melodies.”

In some ways, Ben-Haim was a composer in the right place at the right time. He became a hugely successful tonal composer, whose colorful folkloristic style and exotic melodies were particularly relevant to the Israeli experience.

“This was a young country looking to provide an identity for itself,” Wynberg said. “Writing music as if you were part of a German conservatory was not going to cut it. It was a tabula rasa. You could do what your conscience and creativity pushed you to do.

The album, which the Jewish Journal calls a “vibrant recording, thrillingly performed,” can be purchased on Amazon.

To listen to ARC Ensemble’s live performance of Ben-Haim in our Fall 2010 concert, visit our concert page.