Since the festivities kicked off in mid-December with a series of concerts in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra has been celebrating its 70th anniversary in style, hosting appearances by many of the orchestra's friends from over the years.
The celebration continues with an American tour stopping in New York, San Francisco and, on Feb. 5-6, Los Angeles' Walt Disney Concert Hall.
"Everybody who is here has a history with the orchestra," Avi Shoshani, the flamboyant secretary general of the orchestra, said the day before the celebration's Dec. 26 gala in Tel Aviv. "I want the orchestra's friends to be here ... the music making is for real here.
People come here because they want to be here for the music, for Israel and whatever that stands for. Each of them is what we call a mensch."
Indeed, that roster of mensches included violinists Maxim Vengerov and Gil Shaham; cellist Mischa Maisky; pianists Yefim Bronfman and Evgeny Kissin; conductors Lorin Maazel, Gustavo Dudamel and Valery Gergiev, and Daniel Barenboim on double duty as both conductor and pianist.
The festive gala concert at Tel Aviv's Mann Auditorium marked the anniversary of the orchestra's inaugural concert in 1936 and opened with celebratory excitement as Zubin Mehta, the orchestra's music director for life, conducted Pinchas Zukerman in the Bruch Violin Concerto.