“Zet sich avec!” Bombay native Zubin Mehta pleaded in Yiddish with the 500 black-tie guests to sit down when they honored him with a standing ovation at a post-concert dinner last month at the Plaza Hotel.
Born 76 years ago in Bombay (now Mumbai), the maestro has picked up quite a few Yiddish and Hebrew expressions since becoming music conductor for life of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in 1981.
Mehta conducted the IPO in Arnold Schoenberg’s powerful “Kol Nidre,” Felix Mendelssohn’s “Piano Concerto No. 1,” and the New York premiere of Israeli composer Noam Sheriff’s heart stirring “Mechaye Hametim” (Revival of the Dead) featuring the Collegiate Chorale and Manhattan Girls Chorus.
At the dinner, Mehta addressed the Israeli composer: “Noam, we are so proud to play your music tonight. I have rarely seen my colleagues put their heart into every note and they were magnificent.”
The IPO is scheduled to give the New Year’s Eve people’s concert in Beijing. Mehta said they’ve been going to China for 20 years.
At one China concert he noticed a television crew. “What TV is that?” he asked.
“Oh, it’s only local,” the TV producer said.
“What’s local?” Mehta asked. “How many people will see it?”
“Only 200 million,” he said.
David Hirsch, president of the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which sponsored the dinner underwritten by Adrienne Arsht, said that last year the group embarked on a global campaign to raise $150 million to rejuvenate the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv, home of the IPO. “We have raised half of our goal,” he said. The refurbished hall will open in April with a new name: the Charles R. Bronfman Auditorium.
Lauren Veronis, benefit co-chairman, welcomed IPO supporters, including Ingeborg and Ira Rennert, Claudio Pincus, Judith and Burton Resnick, and Terre Blair Hamlisch. Veronis said she missed Terre’s husband Marvin, who died in August at age 68.
“Marvin Hamlisch, was my co-chairman last year. He was supposed to do the same tonight.”