Song of Songs

A Felicja Blumental Festival Premiere

"Song of Songs", oratorio for Mezzo-soprano, Teno, Baritone, women's choir and orchestra.

The Felicja Blumental Festival, in cooperation with the Raanana Symphonette Orchestra, presents a fascinating Israeli premiere of the colorful and romantic work of the Jewish-Austrian-American composer Walter Arlen. Walter Arlen was born in 1920 in Austria. At the age of five he was identified as having absolute hearing and was destined for greatness as a composer and a pianist.

The Anschluss of Nazi Germany thwarted his great plans. After Kristallnacht, Arlene's family, his parents and sister managed to obtain a visa to England.  Many of his family were killed by the Nazi killing machine, and he found a job in Chicago as a furrier's assistant.

But Arlen did not give up. For four years he was a student of Roy Harris, one of the most influential American composers of the first half of the last century. Later, he completed his composition studies at the University of Los Angeles and was a member of the group of immigrant artists who fled Nazi Europe. For many years he served as the music critic of the Los Angeles Times and founded the music department at Loyola Marymount University. He and his partner, Howard Myers, forged strong ties with the greatest composers, including Stravinsky, Milhaud, Villa-Lobos and Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

In fact, he composed in his spare time, as a means of healing and reconciling with past events. Giving lectures and producing concerts, he also wrote poems and piano works, which were added to the pieces he had composed before he was forced to leave his hometown, Vienna.

In 2008, a concert was held at the Jewish Museum in Vienna, where selected works by Arlene were performed, marking the 70th anniversary of the Anschluss. The works were successful and after many decades, Arlen was recognized throughout the musical community as a composer of stature. About two years later, his songs for voice and piano were recorded by Gramola.

The Oratorio "The Song of Songs", based on selected chapters of the Bible translated into English, is the culmination of the composer's work, now 98 years old and visually impaired, combining the mysterious and the exotic between the post-Romantic musical language of the early 20th century in Vienna and American art music of the mid-twentieth century. Arlen's vocal lines are particularly lyrical and poignant, from tacitized adaptation of the biblical text to original and surprising Cantilena. The combination of solo singers with the female choir creates unusual, personal and intimate textures. In the last chapter of the work, Arlene expresses the sensuality of the biblical text in a seemingly simple but original way in this context - a sensual duet between the tenor and the mezzo-soprano.


Felicja Blumental Festival

Raanana Symphonette Orchestra


Keren Kagarlitzky Conductor

Nitzan Alon Mezzo-soprano

Ron Silberstein Tenor

Yoav Meir Weiss Baritone

Neve Shir Female Choir

Anat Dor Choir Master


Schubert: Symphony No. 5 in B Flat Major, D.485

Walter Arlen: The Song of Songs (Israeli premiere)


Friday, 29.3.2019 at 13:00

The Zucker Hall, Tel Aviv

Concert ca: 80 min


For the Felicja Blumental Program:

Tickets:  or call 077-2019573