Shelly Davis, What's Your Message in Holding a Concert Near the Gaza Border?

Haggai Hitron
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Haggai Hitron

Shelly Davis is a clarinetist who has been a member of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra for the past 20 years. Recently, she decided to try to rouse the world's conscience with an IPO concert. The event she organized, to be conducted by Zubin Mehta, is supposed to take place in early July in one of the world's most sensitive spots - in order to remind everyone that kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit is cut off from the world.

A few details are still being worked out, but apparently the concert will take place in the afternoon in a field near Kibbutz Nahal Oz. The orchestra's stage director has already checked out the area.

Three regional councils in the south and the Sderot municipality were all involved in planning and coordinating the event, including matters related to funding and costs.

The initiative is mainly feminine, and the steering committee set up by Davis includes four of her female colleagues in the orchestra: cellist Shulamit Lorrain, violinist Rimma Kaminkovsky, violist Rachel Kam and pianist Milka Laks. An experienced organizer is working with them: the secretary general of the orchestra Avi Shoshani.

Davis, a mother of four wind instrument players who is also married to one (the philharmonic's trombonist, Micha Davis), is the project's "mother." She says she has been thinking up various ideas connected to Gilad Shalit for a long time now.

What is your message? Are you calling on the Israeli government to be more flexible, so that the deal to exchange Shalit for Palestinian prisoners can be implemented?

"No. We are not calling for that. It was important to me that our message be based on consensus. We want as many people in the world as possible to know that Shalit does not receive visits."

Do you hope that important guests from abroad will attend the concert?

"We'll try to bring people like [former U.S. president Bill] Clinton, [former British prime minister] Tony Blair. It hasn't been finalized yet. And also the wives of leaders. We're hoping that President [Shimon] Peres will help us, and Sara Netanyahu as well. We've already spoken to both of them."

What about Arab Israeli representatives?

"An excellent idea."

And there will be speeches, in addition to the playing.

"Definitely."

What will you play?

"The program hasn't been decided yet. An activist from the headquarters of the Free Gilad Shalit association who is involved in the initiative recommended including a work by a student in Jerusalem's music academy, called 'A Mother's Cry.' Another activist from the headquarters is working to get singer Shlomo Artzi as a soloist."

I guess you can forget about Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," with the cannon.

"We're leaving it to Zubin to decide what will ultimately be played."

Aren't there players in the philharmonic who are afraid of being hit by Qassam rockets?

"There has been some talk to that effect, but only in the corridors. The orchestra is going for it, and participation will be on a voluntary basis. I've also spoken to bassoonist Zeev Dorman, a former member of our board who is currently director of the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, so he can line up replacements from his orchestra if necessary."

How did you come to this activity?

"Because of the distress that Gilad's isolation causes me, as a mother. When parents don't know what's happening to their child, that's the worst thing. When my daughter was young, I experienced something perhaps somewhat similar, when I lost her in the park for 10 minutes."

Do you feel that you have managerial potential?

"I had some fear, and my husband Micha was also afraid at the beginning, that I'd be very nervous. But in the end, I realized it isn't true that I'm not capable. It's also related to the fact that I'm now studying at a private management and leadership course."

You said earlier that you had more dramatic ideas with regard to Shalit's distress.

"True. For example, a year and a half ago, I dreamed that we were playing at a concert in Gaza City, and at the end of the concert, we simply took Gilad home with us."

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