Off the beaten track...
"Ensemble PHOENIX: for the ones looking for baroque programs with originality and quality." Yedioth Aharonoth
Now in its 21th season, PHOENIX is a broad, multi-faceted ensemble specialized in early music. The Israel-based band employs different sets of period instruments to perform music written between 1200 and 1800 with the instrumental colors of each time and place. The ensemble began as a consort of viols, and soon grew to its present size, performing around 30 concerts each year, from small chamber concerts to big projects envolving some 60 musicians.
Myrna Herzog, its founder and director, is the dreamer of the ensemble's musical adventures. Her philosophy is to use early instruments to bring alive different cultures and times, and at the same time, to build bridges between people, to move, to create beauty and harmony.
High standards and a commitment to quality and excellence are the trade-mark of PHOENIX. The ensemble started its activities on September 3, 1998, and its concert debut in May 1999 was already hailed as "a red-letter day for Israel’s musical life" (The Jerusalem Post). Since then, PHOENIX's 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". Hear a bit of it on Youtube.
PHOENIX's unconventional programming presents to the public a repertoire off the beaten track, ranging from Medieval to Early Romantic music on period instruments. The ensemble was responsible for an impressive number of Israeli premieres, among them the staging of operas such as medieval The Play of Daniel, the baroque La Purpura de la Rosa, and the classical The Pirates, of the theatrical cantatas of Cristofaro Caresana, of the Mexican 17th century Misa Zapoteca and most recently of the extraordinary oratorios by Michelangelo Falvetti, Il Diluvio Universale andNabucco. Also in the theatrical vein, the ensemble presents Myrna Herzog's musical play Passion & Madness, featuring English 17h century music and texts, bridged by her own texts written in the same language and style. Most recently PHOENIX performed as a classical orchestra on period instruments, premiering Brazilian Composer Nunes Garcia’s Requiem from 1816.
PHOENIX has been responsible in Israel for the first complete renditions on period instruments of important works such as Bachs' Art of Fugue and The Musical Offering, Rameau's Pièces de Clavecin en Concert, Marin Marais's La Gamme and Mozart's flute quartets. Its repertoire includes also new music written for old instruments (David Loeb, Dina Smorgonskaya, Boris Yoffe, Shun Tokura, Luiz Otavio Braga and others) and new arrangements for old instruments.
In addition PHOENIX offers special projects such as Wind and Sea - Brazilian 20th century music with viols (Villa-Lobos, Dorival Caymmi); O pray for the peace of Jerusalem and Convivencia, joining a mixed crew of Jews, Christians and Muslims in a fruitful exchange carried through the music; Follow the Cat, a program of music about those wonderful felines, written by five centuries of composers, from the Renaissance to modern times.
In 21 years of activities, the ensemble has recorded 6 CDs for different labels. The ensemble has participated in all the important music festivals in Israel, including the Israel Festival. It has performed as a soloist of the Sinfonietta Beersheva and performs often as a guest of the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra.