Inna Rogatchi
War & Humanity Special Project

Music of Shattered Hearts: Salute to Israel concert

Salute to Israel concert. Photo: Inna Rogatchi (C).

Sunday October 22nd 2023, a new season of the Israel Philharmonic, in my opinion, the best orchestra in the world, should have opened, with Mahler Third Symphony. But there was no opening, and no season. Nor for the Israeli Philharmonic, nor for any orchestra or theatre all over the country. ‘The cultural halls are dark here’ – we are reading somber lines coming from Israel these days. 

But great Israeli musicians cannot be idle. It has been reported ( by Dan Yakir for Norman Lebrecht’s  leading classical music Slipped Disk site) that the musicians of the Philharmonic ‘immediately grouped into three to four soloists’ ensembles and are performing in  hospitals and at the hotels hosting the evacuated people”. Dan also mentioned that ‘Meitar Ensemble, Israel’s leading contemporary music team, is playing concerts for lonely elderly citizens’.

It is so true, we know that our sighs can turn into melody. It has happened all throughout our history.  And it is happening now.

Instead of a festive opening of a new season, the Israeli Philharmonic gave on that very day, Sunday, October 22, 2023  a very special concert called Salute to Israel

In front of an empty hall. But not exactly empty the hall was. In the way of the trend of our sorrowful days, the seats of the first rows of the Bronfman Auditorium were adorned with 200 photographs of the kidnapped Israelis. The national pride of Israel led by Lahav Shani, nephew of our good friend, distinguished Israeli diplomat Dov Steinberg, played first and foremost to those whose faces the musicians were facing during an hour tribute to the nation. 

Hatikvah performed at the Salute to Israel concert by the Israeli Philharmonic. Sunday 22 October, 2023. Photo: Inna Rogatchi (C).

Hatikvah is a universal code of unity for any Jew anywhere, and I mean it. I have heard numerous interpretations of Hatikvah during my life, some of them truly historical events, as played by the same Israeli Philharmonic orchestra led by Leonard Bernstein, or another one interpreted by Zubin Mehta.  These days, we are hearing it a lot, every time stroking the innermost chords of our souls. But this Hatikvah which we heard – and saw, importantly – yesterday, will stay in my heart for good. I loved every single musician who almost  all were playing standing. I loved their faces. It was the case when melody transformed into different way of expression altogether, and sounds were spoken. It was compassion in the purest form of it. 

Lahav Shani at the Salute to Israel concert. October 22, 2023. Photo: Inna Rogatchi (C)

Lahav Shani, who is a young person, he is  34, gave a mature and touching short speech before the orchestra prepared for Beethoven’s Eroica. He continues the legacy of his great teachers and mentors, including Zubin Mehta, truly well, and in front of our eyes, Lahav emerges into a serious, meaningful figure which represents Israel at its best. 

Eroica on that special evening, at this very special concert, was unique. Mighty but not overwhelmingly, showing all the inner strength of music, musicians and conductor, coherent, in a perfect harmony of everyone in the orchestra, a very special deed of every single musician and all of them together with their very able conductor.

Israel Philharmonic is known for its historical  performances. We were privileged to have one more one last Sunday. The spirit of the entire Israel was playing on the stage in the Bronfman Auditorium yesterday. Israel knew it, and musicians and their conductor knew it as well. We all who were watching breathlessly world-wide, also knew it. It was a rare, undemonstrative, but extremely deep unity of us all. 

Great Israeli musicians at the Salute to Israel concert. October 22,2023. Photo: Inna Rogatchi (C)

After the final of Eroica, some of the musicians let their emotions go, at last. Some of them hugged each other. They knew how difficult it was for each  and every one of them to play this Salute to Israel in front of empty seats with portraits of two hundreds people held hostage. 

The degree of professionalism of this great orchestra is well-known world-wide. The degree of their dignity was shining at its brightest in the dimmed big empty hall on Sunday October 22, 2023 night.

Toda Raba, Lahav. Toda Raba, all fantastic musicians of the best orchestra in the world. Toda Raba to all and everyone who has organised this unique hymn of love and dignity.

The essay is part of Inna Rogatchi The War & Humanity special project.

About the Author
Inna Rogatchi is author of War & Humanity special project originated in the aftermath of the October 7th, 2023 massacre in Israel. Inna is internationally acclaimed public figure, writer, scholar, artist, art curator and film-maker, the author of widely prized film on Simon Wiesenthal: The Lessons of Survival and other important documentaries on modern history. She is an expert on public diplomacy and was a long-term international affairs adviser for the Members of the European Parliament. She lectures on the topics of international politics and public diplomacy widely. Her professional trade-mark is inter-weave of history, arts, culture and mentality. She is the author of the concept of the Outreach to Humanity cultural and educational projects conducted internationally by The Rogatchi Foundation of which Inna is the co-founder and President. She is also the author of Culture for Humanity concept of The Rogatchi Foundation global initiative that aims to provide psychological comfort to wide audiences by the means of high-class arts and culture in challenging times. Inna is the wife of the world renowned artist Michael Rogatchi. Her family is related to the famous Rose-Mahler musical dynasty. Together with her husband, Inna is a founding member of Music, Art and Memory international cultural educational and commemorative initiative with a multiply projects in several countries. Her professional interests are focused on Jewish heritage, arts and culture, history, Holocaust and post-Holocaust. She is author of several projects on artistic and intellectual studies on various aspect of the Torah and Jewish spiritual heritage. She is twice laureate of the Italian Il Volo di Pegaso Italian National Art, Literature and Music Award, the Patmos Solidarity Award, and the New York Jewish Children's Museum Award for Outstanding Contribution into the Arts and Culture (together with her husband). Inna Rogatchi was the member of the Board of the Finnish National Holocaust Remembrance Association and is member of the International Advisory Board of The Rumbula Memorial Project ( USA). Her art can be seen at Silver Strings: Inna Rogatchi Art site -
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