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Mehta: Arab Spring may be upbeat for Israel Philharmonic

Sep 1, 2011, 8:27 a.m.
International orchestral and operatic conductor Zubin Mehta speaks before receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California March 1, 2011. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Q: Speaking of Mahler, the late Leonard Bernstein, who was a guest conductor of the Israel Philharmonic and recorded some Mahler symphonies with them, said of the orchestra that it was able to bring out the "Jewishness" of Mahler's music unlike any other. How come?

A: "Although Mahler was converted (to Christianity), especially in his early works the 'Jewishness' was huge, it came out of his pen...And the orchestra does that naturally. Every bar of Mahler they make it sound Jewish -- that which is Jewishness in Mahler, the folk songs, the folk tunes he uses from his youth, of course we play with the understanding of that Central European pathos."

Q: You've been involved in some very high profile musical events over the years, including a long stint as music director of the New York Philharmonic, conducting concerts by The Three Tenors, the New Year's concert in Vienna. What gives you a kick these days?

A: "Yes...but we have a great many new recordings with the Israel Philharmonic that one can get over the Internet or our website. We record those at concerts so they are live recordings as we are very proud of those new recordings."

(Zubin Mehta conducts the Israel Philharmonic with Gil Shaham as soloist in the Bruch Violin Concerto at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Thursday night)

(Writing by Michael Roddy, editing by Paul Casciato)

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