PHOENIX is a broad, multi-faceted ensemble specialized in early music. It employs different sets of period instruments to perform music written between 1200 and 1800 with the instrumental colors of the time. At its heart is PHOENIX, the Israel Consort of Viols. And it recently accquired a new wing, VOCE PHOENIX, an ensemble of 7 talented soloist singers.
Myrna Herzog, its founder and director, is the dreamer of PHOENIX 's musical adventures, the philosophy of which is to build bridges between people and cultures, create meeting points, harmony, making wherever we are pleasant for a moment.
High standards and a commitment to quality and excellence are the trade-mark of PHOENIX. Since the Israel Consort of Viols concert debut in May 1999, hailed as "a red-letter day for Israel’s musical life" (Ury Eppstein, The Jerusalem Post), its work has been described as "masterful, remarkable, unconventional, fascinating, exciting, enchanting, refreshing, refined, exquisite, unique, superb, expressive, magical, imaginative, terrific, sensitive, outstanding, stunning, humorous, joyful, defying classification". You can hear a bit of its work on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD8CC286BE428D7A8&feature=plcp
PHOENIX repertoire ranges mostly from the middle ages to Classic and Early Romantic music on period instruments (one of them, an original French fortepiano made in 1800). Its unconventional programming includes new arrangements for old instruments (of music by Villa-Lobos, Debussy, Dorival Caymmi, Yeheskel Braun, Tom Jobim), and new music written for old instruments (Luiz Otavio Braga, David Loeb, Dina Smorgonskaya, Boris Yoffe, Shun Tokura and others).
PHOENIX has performed also special projects such as Wind and Sea: Brazilian 20th century music with viols (Villa-Lobos, Dorival Caymmi); the world premiere of the Mexican 17th century Misa Zapoteca; the full staging of the 13th century Play of Daniel; and the Israeli premiere of Bach's Art of the Fugue and The Musical Offering on period instruments. In programs such as O pray for the peace of Jerusalem and Convivencia: the encounter between Judaism, Islam and Christianity in Golden Age Iberia, a mixed crew of Jews, Christians and Muslims materializes a fruitful personal and cultural exchange, which is carried through the music.
In 12 years of activities, the ensemble has recorded 5 CDs for different labels. Its A Criolla Celebration, a concert of Bolivian Baroque music at the Abu Gosh Festival, was chosen by Timeless Recordings as one of the two best concerts of the Festival in 2004, and its live recording released as CD.
The ensemble has participated in all the important music festivals in Israel. It has performed at the Israel Festival in 2006 and 2007. It has been chosen among more than 200 ensembles to perform in February 2011 at the Sarajevo Winter Festival. It performs yearly some 30 concerts, ranging from small chamber concerts to big projects envolving some 50 musicians.The ensemble has recently performed as soloist with Sinfonietta Beersheva.
In 2008 PHOENIX performed with great success the first Israeli staging of the 13th century Ludus Danielis (The Play of Daniel), known as a medieval sacred "opera". The manuscript was transcribed by Myrna Herzog, who also did the musical direction, and the stage director was Niv Hoffman, of the Tel Aviv Opera. The press hailed the ensemble's "superb musicianship", and the performance was considered "vibrant, energetic, invigorating, appealing to the modern audience (Jerusalem Post)", "delightful, a highlight in Jerusalem’s musical life (Go Jerusalem). See a full live performance at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgkkWyVX3PM&feature=PlayList&p=8A7462173D5AC66F&index=0&playnext=1
Ensemble PHOENIX is represented in Israel by Sara Piro, and at the UK by Davies Music. It has a page on facebook.
"No one concert this group performs is conventional… One cannot deny PHOENIX’s superb musicianship in whatever it tackles. Those of us looking for first class performance will never be disappointed by PHOENIX. It has set new standards for Early Music performance in this country." Go Jerusalem
The Zapotec Mass, Abu Gosh Festival