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Review on Mozart book
April 18, 2017

Online Merker

RENATE WAGNER

Zu Beginn ist man – zumal als Wiener Leser – total verblüfft. Da geht man im Prolog über den Wiener Kohlmarkt, und da ist das „Café Milani“. Wie bitte? Wie kommt es, dass man das nicht kennt? Nun, weil der Autor im Prolog so um fast 250 Jahre zurückblendete, in die Zeit, als Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart hier mit Lorenzo Da Ponte am Kaffeetisch saß. Das ist nicht erwiesen, aber der Dirigent Omer Meir Wellber stellt es sich so vor. Und nimmt den Leser in seine Wanderung in die Welt Mozarts mit.

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This Israeli Conductor Wants To Use Music To Fix The World
April 4, 2017

Forward

BENJAMIN IVRY

David Ben Gurion once stated that “it is in the Negev that the creativity and pioneer vigor of Israel shall be tested,” but he probably wasn’t thinking about opera. Omer Meir Wellber, born in 1981 in Be’er Sheva, the largest city in the Negev desert of southern Israel, has carved out an international career as a conductor. His new book, “Fear, Risk, and Love: Moments with Mozart” from Ecowin publishers, describes his experience of conducting three operas written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the librettist Lorenzo da Ponte.
Wellber’s U.S. debut was in 2014 with the Pittsburgh Symphony, following extensive experience across Europe. Acclaimed for his muscular renditions of operas such as Verdi’s “Aida,”; Boito’s “Mefistofele”; and Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”, Wellber has also recorded an aria recital with the soprano Aleksandra Kurzak for Decca.. Recently Maestro Wellber took some time from his busy schedule to speak with The Forward’s Benjamin Ivry about matters musical and desertic:

At age five you were studying piano, accordion and violin and, at nine, composition with Tania Teler of the Be’er Sheva Conservatory. She would make students copy out entire symphonies. You called this a “profound spiritual experience.” Not boring?

Of course it’s not an exercise that would interest everyone, but the effect on my career was really profound. It was like getting into the shoes of someone else. Memorizing things, the mechanical activity of doing it, erasing when you made some mistake, is a very profound thing. I was a little bit of a romantic child and would light candles as if my room was in Vienna 1820.

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Desato sonante
September 16, 2015

Classic Voice

ANNA FRANINI

L’avvio è previsto per settembre. Nel frattempo ha già avuto una doppia benedizione. Da parte di Daniel Barenboim e di Shimon Peres. Entrambi apprezzano Sarab, il progetto di integrazione dei beduini di Israele attraverso la musica. L’artefice è Omer Meir Wellber, direttore israeliano ospite stabile della Israeli Opera, della Semperoper di Dresda, della Fenice di Venezia e direttore musicale della Raanana Symphonette. L’operazione non è certo priva di rischi, basti dire che si sviluppa a Rahat, l’insediamento beduino più esteso al mondo, a un passo da Gaza, nel deserto del Neghev, 70mila abitanti e una fitta rete di moschee. Rahat è il fanalino di coda dell’economia di Israele, il tasso di scolarizzazione è fra i più bassi del Paese, le tensioni sono all’ordine del giorno, intrichi di forze sotterranee offrono il pane a movimenti estremi, incluso Isis e Hamas. Tanto per intenderci, gli Israeliani non ci vanno se non per riprendersi gli oggetti di cui sono stati derubati. Ciò nonostante le linee progettuali di Sarab sono state definite, gli insegnanti assoldati, una Fondazione del Liechtenstein ha donato i primi 150mila euro, la famiglia di Wellber ha contribuito all’acquisto di violini e violoncelli. Da settembre si comincia. Wellber stesso è uomo del deserto, nato e cresciuto - anche musicalmente - a Beer Sheva, 15 minuti d’auto da Rahat: “Conosco molto bene la località, ci venivo da ragazzo”, spiega, “del progetto ho parlato in un’intervista a ‘Die Welt’ ed è così che una Fondazione del Liechtenstein ha voluto incontrarmi a Venezia e a gennaio avevamo in cassa 150mila euro. Abbiamo articolato il programma, costruito le classi, reperito i primi insegnanti e a maggio abbiamo avviato alcuni corsi preliminari, anche se ufficialmente tutto prenderà corpo in autunno”. Wellber conosce l’anima beduina di questa città dove sotto il primo piano delle abitazioni “si lascia lo spazio per montare la tenda”. A Rahat la situazione dei ragazzi in età scolare è malcerta. “Per la verità di scuole ve ne sono almeno 20, l’inglese è la terza lingua dopo l’arabo e l’ebraico però solo un ragazzo su tre arriva in fondo agli studi superiori, e solo il 5% riesce a laurearsi”, spiega Jamal Alkirnawi, beduino che appartiene a quel 5% e ha fondato l’associazione A New Dawn per promuovere “la coesistenza e la pace” fra gli abitanti del Neghev. Per questo ha colto al volo il progetto di Wellber: lui e Jacob Reuven, mandolinista presto al Filarmonico di Verona, rappresentano le forze operative sul campo, possono seguire il progetto con regolarità. “Un programma musicale è fondamentale per costruire la personalità di bambini della seconda e terza elementare in un territorio in perenne allarme”. Nel luglio e agosto 2014, durante i 50 giorni del conflitto Protective Edge, quindici ragazzi di Rahat sono stati formati da A New Dawn per “andare nelle case e negli accampamenti a informare la gente su come proteggersi: qui non abbiamo ripari per bombe” prosegue. “Attraverso la musica vogliamo contagiare l’intero gruppo familiare, favorire in questi ragazzi l’apertura verso altre culture, stimolare la percezione
e il rispetto delle differenze. È giunto il momento di offrire alle nuove generazioni di Beduini oltre al pane gli strumenti per giocare un ruolo in un contesto internazionale. E se i Beduini di Rahat hanno vissuto con terrore i lanci di razzi e bombe da Gaza, i nostri ragazzi, quelli che ora parteciperanno ai corsi musicali, hanno circolato di casa in casa portando voci di speranza”. “I nostri progetti”, continua, “incluso quello musicale, aiutano ad affrontare e superare i traumi. Per esempio abbiamo creato gruppi di ascolto per le madri e i loro figli adolescenti, momenti in cui possono esternare le paure in modo naturale, senza timore di essere giudicati, fraintesi, perseguiti. Da voi, in Occidente, dopo una tragedia c’è una squadra di intervento post crisi. Questo da noi non accade, e dire che le tragedie qui sono correnti. Ecco, noi ci siamo attivati, e la musica sarà un ulteriore balsamo”. Alkirnawi non menziona i termini Isis e Hamas, soppesa le parole, ma è chiaro che i 15 ragazzi, padre e figlia sopravvissuti alle bombe, sono beduini strappati dalle braccia delle organizzazioni terroristiche.
Sarab è rivolto ai bambini della seconda e terza elementare, “una volta alla settimana quattro ragazzi per classe lasciano i loro compagni e seguono un corso di musica. A rotazione, ogni sette giorni tutti possono prendere lezioni musicali. Poi, i più motivati, dal terzo anno avranno lezioni individuali e potranno portarsi a casa lo strumento per studiare. Al momento sono in 100 ad aver aderito” spiega Wellber. Le prime difficoltà? “Convincere i genitori a far partecipare i figli alle lezioni. Tanti sono scettici, benché i corsi siano a costo zero, e neppure abbiano l’impegno di accompagnare i ragazzi, già fisicamente a scuola. Del resto, è proprio la percezione dell’importanza dell’istruzione a mancare, durante il ramadan in tanti se ne stanno a casa”. “Non è stato semplice neppure convincere gli insegnanti a spingersi fin qui, soprattutto le donne”, precisa Reuven. “Però abbiamo vinto la sfida individuandone quattro con i parametri richiesti”. Reuven, mandolinista con esperienze di pedagogia musicale, da nove anni, per conto del Jerusalem Music Center, conduce un progetto di educazione musicale nelle scuole ebraiche di Israele. Da due anni è il nuovo direttore del Conservatorio di Beer Sheva, un’istituzione negli ultimi anni in declino. Dall’inizio del mandato ha triplicato le iscrizioni: ora più di 700 (15 anni fa erano duemila). Un Conservatorio, dunque, che all’alba del terzo millennio era in controtendenza rispetto al crescendo di consumo di cultura in Israele, un aumento certo sollecitato dall’ondata di immigrazione degli anni Novanta, quella post collasso sovietico. Un flusso che ha incrementato domanda e offerta musicale. La seconda tappa di Sarab prevede proprio uno scambio fra studenti ebrei di Beer Sheva e beduini di Rahat. Perché Wellber, 34 anni, incarichi a Dresda, alla Fenice, a Londra, tournée nel mondo, dedica tante energie a Sarab? “È anche un modo per rendere omaggio alla memoria di mio padre. Siamo di Gerusalemme da sette generazioni, ma papà, brillante sindacalista degli anni Sessanta-Settanta, si trasferì a Beer Sheva: glielo chiese espressamente David Ben Gurion (fondatore di Israele, ndr). La missione era quella di dare dinamismo a questa città in una fase di grande afflusso di immigrati ebrei dai Paesi Arabi. Iniziò col creare una scuola. I beduini erano insensibili all’istruzione, papà entrò in contatto con il loro leader e lo convinse a iscrivere a scuola uno dei suoi figli e l’esempio fu seguito. Con Sarab è come se proseguissi l’opera di mio padre Yitzhak”. “Peres mi ha promesso sostegno”, continua. “Al momento è prematuro bussare alla sua porta. Tornerò al momento giusto: è proprio in questi non luoghi che possono fiorire forze estreme. La scuola è curata, graziosa, fuori dal cancello si muove però un altro mondo, immondizia per le strade, bazar improponibili, tante case fatiscenti. Nel parcheggio c’è un suv, lo raggiunge una donna araba della quale a malapena si scorge il viso. Si muove però con disinvoltura, sale sull’auto e via. È un’area di contrasti, insomma, nel più puro spirito di questo Paese. In tale senso ne è l’emblema Gerusalemme dove il quartiere ebraico, lindo e ordinato, sconfina nell’intrico di strade, souq, colori e sapori esotici di quello musulmano. Dopo la preghiera del venerdì di ramadan nella moschea di al-Aqsa, sciamano per quelle viuzze centinaia di fedeli, un flusso inarrestabile, sorvegliato a vista dalle forze dell’ordine israeliane: mitraglie spianate lungo la Via Dolorosa. Una città di croci e armi. Una Terra Santa armata. Un ossimoro vivente.

"Omer Meir Wellber‘s auspicious London Concert Debut as Augustin Hadelich dazzles in Lalo"
April 22, 2015

Seen and Heard International
CLAIRE SEYMOUR

Israeli conductor Omer Meir Wellber has a busy career in Europe.  His big breakthrough came in 2008 when he stepped in at short notice to conduct Aida at Padua’s Teatro Verdi and attracted the attention of the Italian media.  An opportunity to assist Daniel Barenboim at La Scala and the Berlin Staatsoper followed, and since then Wellber hasn’t looked back.  But in the UK we had to wait until May last year to hear Wellber, whose performances of Eugene Onegin at the Glyndebourne Festival with the London Philharmonic Orchestra were highly acclaimed.  The LPO must have enjoyed that experience for they took the opportunity to invite him back to make his official ‘concert platform’ debut at the Royal Festival Hall.  The evening’s performance revealed Wellber to be a conductor whose combination of energy and clarity, passion and intellect, engenders exciting, enthralling music-making.

In Debussy’s Prélude à L’après midi d’un faune Wellber was true to the gentle suggestiveness of Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem upon which the work is based.  He fleetingly evoked specific emotions which then faded back into mystery, just as the faun – half man, half goat – drifts between dream and reality as he spends a languorous afternoon reflecting on the erotic allure of some nymphs.  Wellber’s sculpting of the orchestra’s swelling phrases was as impressive as his attention to textural detail.  There were strong waves of sound which shimmered and pulsed like the heat on a sultry summer’s day, but the full orchestral tone was never overly rich and always tempered by a classical restraint.  Instrumental solos were beautifully played.  The harps’ cascades and flourishes had the grace of dancers’ arabesques and contrasted with the winnowing chromaticism of the woodwind and horn gestures.  The lovely slipperiness of the clarinet and horn was juxtaposed with the more pointed poignancy of the oboe and cor anglais.  Sue Thomas’s opening flute solo was delicate and mysterious, emerging softly from the silence, gradually warming and then briefly blossoming before being quelled by the exclamation from oboes, clarinets, horn and harp.  It would have been even more affecting had it not been ambushed by at least four audience members who could not restrain their coughing for even a few seconds during the very first bars of the performance (and whose noisy interjections continued throughout the evening).

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"London Philharmonic/Omer Meir Wellber"
April 22, 2015

Classical Source
PETER REED

This week has seen the LPO stepping out with its Glyndebourne connections, first with the opera house’s music director Robin Ticciati and in this concert with Omer Meir Wellber, who went down very well in his Sussex debut last year (in Eugene Onegin). This was Wellber’s ‘official’ LPO debut in a programme originally designed for the now-late Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos.

The 34-year-old Wellber has a flourishing career in mainland Europe, predominantly in Germany, and through musical and medical organisations works hard for humanitarian concerns in his native Israel. To judge from the Debussy, his ear was filtering the score’s super-abundant range of nuance and colour on the back of a clear-sighted appreciation of the piece’s evocation of languor, surges of sensual arousal, then more languor. It was a slow-release Viagra performance, balletic and sophisticated enough to hint at the faun’s feral reality. Lovely solos from flute and horn and a multi-layered exposition of orchestral shadows only added to a complete expression of this big if short work’s mystery.

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„Was sollte man auch sonst tun?“
November 1, 2014

Concerti
CHRISTIAN SCHMIDT

Zum Interview verabredet sich Omer Meir Wellber gern im Herzen jener Stadt, die er als Heimstätte für seine Weltreisen in Sachen Orchesterleitung auserkoren hat: am Neumarkt in Dresden. Hier ganz in der Nähe hat der Dirigent eine Wohnung: Steht er doch gleich mehrmals im Jahr am Pult der Staatskapelle, die er weniger pflichtgemäß als vielmehr mit echter Begeisterung zu den besten Orchestern der Welt zählt. Und er muss es wissen, denn Wellber – der sehr weit zurückliegende, aber durchaus nachvollziehbare deutsche Wurzeln hat – macht bei aller Weltgewandtheit aus seiner Sympathie für den individuellen Klang keinen Hehl. Weiterlesen...

Please click here for an English version of the article.

PSO has hot Spanish date
October 12, 2014

The Tartan
MEREDITH NEWMAN

It was clear that the centerpiece of the concert was really the conductor, Wellber. The Israeli’s apparent enthusiasm for the music is rivaled by few other modern conductors. During the third and final piece of the night, Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony, Opus 58, Wellber contorted and moved with the music as it flowed from loud to soft, to loud again and back to soft. [...] It is clear to see that Wellber lives in the music and that his attitude is infectious to anyone in the audience.

PSO debut of Israeli conductor
October 10, 2014

TribLIVE
MARK KANNY

The Israeli conductor fully embraced the expressive extremes of Tchaikovsky music and brought the score's colors boldly to life. Refinement of balance in Debussy is one thing. Wellber was also impressive in the bigger sounds of Tchaikovsky. The brass playing was powerful but not too loud as it often is. Wellber led an excitable performance, a depressive-manic performance.

Omer Meir Wellber: ‘A conductor is like a policeman inside a dream’
August 29, 2014

El Cultural
ALBERTO OJEDA

After leaving the Orquesta del Palau de les Arts – in which pit he replaced no less than Lorin Maazel – Omer Meir Wellber (Be’er Sheva, 1981) continued his journey. In May, the young Israeli conductor – gifted pupil of Barenboim at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala and at Berlin’s Staatsoper – made his debut at the Glyndebourne Festival, where he presented a much praised Eugene Onegin with the visionary Graham Vick as artistic director. He has also made time to pay proper homage to Richard Strauss in the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth. And he has done so in a very apt setting: the city of Dresden, where the Bavarian composer premièred the best part of his operas. He meets El Cultural at the beautiful Semperoper, where he unveils his emotional connection with Strauss only a few hours before performing Ariadne auf Naxos, ‘one of his multiple masterworks’.

New Artist of the Month: Conductor Omer Meir Wellber
June 1, 2014

Musical America
REBECCA SCHMID

Only a few years ago, the name Omer Meir Wellber mostly came up in connection with Daniel Barenboim. As the conductor’s assistant at the Staatsoper Berlin and La Scala, his precocious abilities were on display in everything from Verdi to Liszt, allowing me to catch a performance of Puccini’s Tosca at the Schiller Theater in 2010, in which the orchestra’s swelling phrases and attention to harmonic detail easily recalled the touch of his mentor.
That may be a compliment in itself, but Wellber, 32, has since come into his own as a conductor of versatility, originality, and integrity,…

Eugene Onegin review – artful performances, masterful direction
May 26, 2014

The Guardian
GEORGE HALL

Making his UK debut in the pit, Israeli conductor Omer Meir Wellber draws enthusiastic playing from the London Philharmonic in a beautifully fluent account of the score.

Active Imagination
May 20, 2014

Opera Now
OWEN MORTIMER

A razor-sharp intellect that fizzes with creative energy, combined with a charismatic presence on the podium, the 33-year-old Israeli conductor Omer Meir Wellber is not so much a rising star as a comet hurtling towards the sky. His passion for life and new ideas is positively infectious, even when he’s discussing subjects as recherché as the influence of basso continuo on Mozart recitatives or his penchant for Biblical scholarship. Owen Mortimer talks to this live wire, who is already electrifying audiences in some of Europe’s key operatic centres. …

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Eugene Onegin, Glyndebourne
May 19, 2014

Financial Times
ANDREW CLARK

Few stagings in my experience have pierced this inner world as vividly as Graham Vick’s 1994 Glyndebourne version, and at this latest revival it does so with greater wisdom and power than ever. It starts with one huge advantage – the conducting of UK debutant Omer Meir Wellber, who exposes the core of Tchaikovsky’s emotional outpourings with a reading that combines intense lyricism and, in the dance scenes, virtuosic vitality. The London Philharmonic’s double basses have never sounded so rich and deep. Add an immaculate chorus – bouquets to chorus master Jeremy Bines – and you have the foundation of an exceptional performance.

Glyndebourne 2014: Eugene Onegin, review: 'a masterly, poetic production'
May 19, 2014

The Telegraph
RUPERT CHRISTIANSEN

The chorus is just magnificent too, and the London Philharmonic, seemingly energised […], played immaculately under the acutely sensitive baton of Omer Meir Wellber. Altogether a lovely treat.

Così fan tutte
May 15, 2014

Corriere della Sera
ENRICO GIRARDI

If in 33 years a young man has already conducted 40 operas throughout Europe, speaks seven languages, has appeared several times on the podium of La Scala and become a regular guest conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden, the oldest orchestra in the world, you can say what you want. But nothing will ever be as objective as the reality, which says that Omer Meir Wellber is a musician with a higher gear than any other of his generation.  […] Wellber does not direct "from" the keyboard, but "with" the keyboard, dictating short cadences, a kaleidoscope of colors but also moments of elegiac delay when needed.

Rising Israeli maestro Wellber loves Strauss, accordion too
April 25, 2014

Reuters
MIKE RODDY

Omer Wellber says it's usually after the second question that journalists start asking him what it's like to be an Israeli-born conductor. He doesn't say how long it takes them to start quizzing him about his love for the accordion. At 32, Wellber is undoubtedly the first "sabra" - an Israeli-born Jew - to make a huge hit conducting Verdi's "Aida" in Padua, Italy, where he stepped in at short notice in 2008. …

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Semperoper: Premiere of “Così fan tutte”
March 27, 2014

Bayerischer Rundfunk
VOLKMAR FISCHER

Omer Meir Wellber seized the moment and guides the baton in such a way as if he were drawing in the singers and musicians on an invisible thread […]. When necessary, Wellber also demands dynamic energy from the Dresdner Staatskapelle. In an opera where the libretto ventures into a quasi laboratory experiment, Mozart’s flashes of genius have to be shaken like a test tube – until everything roars and foams… (March 23, 2014)

Guntram - Opera rarity by Richard Strauss
March 19, 2014

Der Neue Merker
UDO PACOLT

„The Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden […] was lead with passionate enthusiasm by young Israeli conductor Omer Meir Wellber” (2 March 2014)

Faith, Love, Death
March 19, 2014
 
Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten
BORIS GRUHL

“Omer Meir Wellber’s conducting is vivid and encouraging, the musicians reacted immediately to his every movement, so that the sound seemed to reverberate around the opera house with the power of an explosion. But the opposite was also achieved. The start of the prelude displayed a very sensitive, subtle, and delicate texture. Omer Meir Wellber’s interpretation complemented the whole character of the piece.” (25 February 2014)

Haydn above all
March 18, 2014

Haaretz
HAGAI HITRON

[…] the orchestra and its conductor Omer Meir Wellber deserve to be heartily congratulated.
How the symphony was performed: it was classic Haydn with the supple, pleasant sound of strings, simple yet full of substance, and when the brass joined them, the result was perfect enjoyment. Sensory delight and amazement were combined. Conductor Wellber’s pledge to coax wonders from the symphony’s third movement – which occasionally seems a little mundane after the second movement which amazes due to its simplicity – was also wholly fulfilled.

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