| Zubin Mehta’s 30th Year With Israel
By Tim Boxer
N its only New York appearance this year, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra enchanted a rapt audience at Lincoln Center. Later at a dinner party in the Plaza Hotel, conductor Zubin Mehta confessed, “When I rehearsed today, you have never seen such a sleepy-eyed orchestra in your life.”
The group had arrived the day before from a concert in Japan and was still jet lagged. They left the next day for a performance in Los Angeles.
Mehta conducted Joseph Tal’s Symphony No. 1, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, and Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with 25-year-old violinist Maxim Vengerov as soloist.
He said that when Maxim first came to him in 1961 as a 16-year-old Russian immigrant, “I engaged him immediately for a tour in the U.S. after the Gulf War. After the first movement, they gave him a standing ovation.”
Lauren and John Veronis chaired the dinner in honor of Mehta’s 30th anniversary as IPO music director.
“Zubin,” she said, “you have become the orchestra’s heart, soul and center. When the scuds fell, you flew to Israel and conducted for an audience dressed in gas masks. You are not only a genius but a man of compassion.” Addressing the guests - among them Judith and Burton Resnick, Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert, Bruce Slovin, Richard Hirsch, Armand Lindenbaum, Fanya Heller, Livia Sylva, Erica Jesselson, James Wolfensohn, I.M. Pei, Kenneth Bialkin, Sy Syms - Mehta said, “I know music is not at the top of your list. Museums and hospitals in Israel are also important. But keep up your support of the Israel Philharmonic.”
Richard Hirsch and friends