Revolution Orchestra takes on The Roosters

The Revolution Orchestra has been shuffling the musical discipline cards for quite some time.

Under the constant and adventurous guidance of founder-artistic directors, composer Zohar Sharon and director Roy Oppenheim, the ensemble has taken on all manner of hybrid musical projects that were previously considered misfit at best.

For the past 17 years, the company has combined its unfettered orchestral approach with a wide range of artists, from all genre and stylistic domains, beginning with the Israeli Rock Project, with symphonic renditions of songs by leading rockers like Berry Sakharof. , Assaf Amdursky, Corinne Alal and Hachaverim Shel Natasha.

Since then, Sharon and Oppenheim have led the ensemble through a musical work that paired the poetry of Yehuda Amichai with the teachings of 20th-century Austrian-born Jerusalem philosopher Martin Buber, a project that was based on the famous Russian romantic composer Modest. Mussorgsky “Pictures at an Exhibition”, a high-octane interface with ethnically-inclined rocker Dudu Tassa and a fascinating interdisciplinary merger with Vertigo Dance Company.

There does not appear to be any artistic outlet that Sharon and Oppenheim regard as creative overreach.

Orchestra 311_revolution (credit: Courtesy)

The Revolution gang is currently digging its already practiced nails into the work of legendary critical act Roosters (Hatarnagolim), which caused a sensation across the country in the early 1960s, and which provided a springboard for numerous musical and comedic twists. That includes the seminal comedy-musical trio Hagashash Hahiver, also known as Hagashash, whose members were in the Roosters lineup from the start.

The latter is also getting a fun and skillful orchestral makeover, with the next show scheduled on November 9 at the Haifa Auditorium to feature The Roosters – The Remix, with arrangements and sheet music by Amir Lekner, and then at The Opera House. in Tel. Aviv, on November 10 at 9:00 p.m.

But taking on the job of established members of the Israeli musical pantheon could be a double-edged sword scenario. There will likely be older folks who come to your shows looking to hear respectful reruns of the sounds they grew up with, only to find that Oppenheim and Sharon have different ideas on how to cook the gems of yesteryear.

In case you’re leaning towards the more conservative or faithful line of thought, it might come as a surprise to learn that the people who were there when it all started are perfectly happy, not too happy, with the contemporary take on the Orchestra of the Revolution. In fact, Shaikeh Levy and Gavri Banai, the two remaining members of Hagashash (Yisrael Poliakov died in 2007) were moved to suggest the possibility that the trio’s comedic-musical production would also recapture the Revolution.

“We started with video clips of The Roosters, and when they saw what we had done with the visual material, they said they would be delighted if we made something based on Hagashash,” says Sharon. “They didn’t say exactly what they were looking for. We went to Shaikeh’s house. They were so excited. We were too. We said it would be a great honor for us to try to create a program based on Hagashash material. “

But this is not just about recycling skits and catchy numbers for the older ones who remember the first time, and introducing the younger ones some of the most iconic acts of this country.

“We never try to rebuild what [original] the artist did on stage, ”explains Sharon. “We tried to create a new show, to feed on his art through video excerpts.” That worked for the Hagashash duo. “They gave us carte blanche,” laughs Sharon.

AFTER 17 YEARS in the multidisciplinary renaissance business, Oppenheim says he and Sharon have developed a tried and trusted aesthetic mindset that helps guide them through the project at hand, regardless of the nature of the source material.

“It doesn’t matter if we are working with Sakharof or [veteran pop-rock] the vocalist Gidi Gov or Hagashash ”, declares Oppenheim. “On the other hand, we always look for material that will take us to the work. That is part of the DNA of the orchestra. “

The comedic trio’s work led them down a left field path. “The Hagashash material required a very different approach, in terms of working with the screen [with original footage and new graphics], regarding having a choir of 50 girls and having two actors on stage as well. It is, says Oppenheim, a delicate balancing act. “We have our aesthetic principles, but we always have to see what the material demands of us. So even if we are talking about the same format, the end result is very different, for example, from The Roosters’ performance ”.

That also impacts the ensemble lineup, so if, for example, there is a more Middle Eastern slant towards origin artists, there may be one or two more ethnic instruments woven into the sonic fabric.

You also have to deal with logistics.

“For The Roosters show we didn’t have a lot of raw material,” says Sharon. “We had poor quality images from a program they did on Belgian television [from 1963], with [Dutch] Subtitle. Taking that and creating an hour or an hour and a quarter show was quite a challenge. “

However, it seems they got the job done right, with the end result doing justice to the original musical and visual offerings, but with some healthy contemporary spice.

For tickets and more information: Tel Aviv – (03) 692-7777 and; Haifa – (04) 837-7777 and

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