Main Events

Ronald Lauder and Tel Aviv
Mayor Ron Huldai

Mayor Is A Fiddler
(Who Knew?)


EW YORKERS like nothing better than a 2 for 1,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said as he welcomed the combined orchestras of the Israel Philharmonic, conducted by Zubin Mehta, and the New York Philharmonic, led by Lorin Maazel, in a joint benefit gala at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center.

It’s been 20 years since the two orchestras performed together. Maestro Mehta was then music director of both orchestras, and sole conductor of that concert.

Zubin Mehta with his mother Tehmi
(left) and Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said he enjoys being a mayor but wouldn’t mind being a member of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO). “I used to play the violin in the kibbutz where I was born,” he told me.

He said his parents came from Poland and settled in Kibbutz Huldai, which gave them not only a new home but also a new name.

One day the young sabra Huldai was given a ticket to an IPO concert in Tel Aviv.

“I had to transfer three buses to get there,” he recalled.

“My seat was in the last row of Mann Auditorium. They featured Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, with Isaac Stern. I was the luckiest kid on earth. I fell in love with the music and the atmosphere, and the taste has stayed with me ever since.”

Richard Hirsch and wife Elaine (left)
with Tzipi Tachnner and Simha Stern

Since then he was able to make some progress – tonight he sat a few rows further down where “I can see and hear much better.”

Huldai recounted the beginnings of IPO. He said Bronislav Huberman persuaded 75 talented musicians to flee Europe on the eve of the Second World War and come to Palestine where they established an orchestra.

“It was Toscanini who conducted the first concert on Tel Aviv’s sandy grounds,” Huldai said.

“Despite the clouds of war above us, we recognizer what keeps us going: our common love of music.”

Security was extremely intense at the IPO party at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. Guests walked a daunting gauntlet of ski-masked sharpshooters with automatic weapons and vicious looking guard dogs.

Ron Lauder (l-r), Kathy Steinberg,
Dore Gold and Jo Carol Lauder

I asked a guest what does he do? “I would like to say security,” Alfred Kingsley replied, hinting at a thriving business. “But it’s securities.”

Wistfully he reminisced about the zany ‘90s when “there was an IPO (initial public offering) dinner every night. Now the only IPO dinner is this one.”

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