Israeli Opera House
The Israeli Opera House in Tel Aviv is shut down during the war

Maintaining live performances during the pandemic seemed impossible, but how unimaginably worse is the current situation in Israel, where war now follows the country’s worst bloodshed since its founding.

In Israel, all performances have been canceled or postponed, including the season-opening galas of the Israel Philharmonic and Israeli Opera.

A note on the Israeli Opera’s website says: “There are times in which our throat is choked by tears and the voice remains numb. In such days we are not able to sing. The new production of Hanoch Levin – The Opera on which we have been working for many months will have to wait for better days.”

The Israel Philharmonic’s planned tour to Turkey is canceled, and musicians of the orchestra are offering free recitals for displaced Israelis. Of the tour, the Jewish Journal said, “Though there have been limited calls to boycott the event on Turkish social media, the mere hosting of the event … marks a significant turning point in Turko-Israeli cultural diplomacy.”

Daniel Harding
Daniel Harding had been slated to conduct The Cleveland Orchestra’s concerts in Israel this month

For ensembles that had planned to tour in Israel, there have also been cancellations, including The Cleveland Orchestra’s debut tour to the country. “The safety of our musicians and staff is a top priority, and this decision was based on State Department guidelines in consultation with security advisors,” a Cleveland Orchestra press release said. “Our thoughts are with friends and family in Israel right now, and we hope for their continued safety.” The orchestra added it will still travel to Austria for concerts in Vienna on Oct. 18 and Linz on Oct. 20.

Travel both in and out of Israel is blocked because civilian aviation is shut down, and some artists — both at home and traveling abroad — have been called up among the thousands of reservists activated.

Elsewhere, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles canceled its annual fundraising gala on Oct. 14 because of the “ongoing violence after Israel was attacked by Hamas fighters.” Meryl Streep, Oprah Winfrey, Michael B. Jordan, and Sofia Coppola were to be honored at the gala, an event greenlit by the unions representing Hollywood actors and writers.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the impact of the war is especially felt at Music at Kohl Mansion, where the Israeli Chamber Project is scheduled for the Oct. 22 opening of the 2023–2024 season. The event will be carried on by those ICP musicians who can make it to Burlingame.

Music at Kohl Mansion Executive Director Patricia Kristof Moy — whose late parents were Holocaust survivors — explained:

“Due to the conflict in Israel, several of the musicians of the Israeli Chamber Project cannot travel out of Israel and therefore will be unable to join us as planned for the opening concert of our season. Since last Saturday morning, we have been working closely with Assaff Weisman, the Israeli Chamber Project’s leader/manager/pianist, to build an excellent replacement program to open our season.

“The musicians are determined to maintain their touring and performing schedule and to honor their commitments. They are exhibiting exemplary professionalism in the face of the tragic events taking place in their homeland.”

Assaff Weisman, Carmit Zori, and Charles Neidich
Pianist Assaff Weisman, violinist Carmit Zori, and clarinetist Charles Neidich will perform in Burlingame on Oct. 22 | Courtesy of Music at Kohl Mansion

Guest clarinetist Charles Neidich joins violinist Carmit Zori and pianist Weisman to perform music by Aram Khachaturian, Béla Bartók, George Gershwin, and Paul Ben-Haim.

The rest of Kohl Mansion’s season: Jupiter String Quartet (Nov. 19), Frautschi, Manasse, Nakamatsu Trio (Jan. 28, 2024), Horszowski Trio (Feb. 25, 2024), Poulenc Trio with soprano Shawnette Sulker (March 17, 2024), pianist Joyce Yang (April 7, 2024), and pianist Ilya Yakushev with members of the St. Lawrence String Quartet (May 5, 2024).