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by Rhonda Spivak, May 16, 2012

Winnipeg is in for a treat as Israeli percussionist Chen Zimblista will be the featured performer at the Jewish National Fund’s Negev Gala, honouring John and Bonnie Buhler – June 5th.

I have seen Zimbalista perform twice, once as part of the Israeli concert series in the Berney Theatre and once at the outdoor amphitheatre overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in Netanya, Israel with the backing of a symphony orchestra. Both performances were dazzling, however my favourite was hearing Chen perform with the orchestra. That performance, which captivated thousands of people of all ages, had a magical quality to it and I have never forgotten it.

For the JNF Negev Gala, Zimbalista will be directing and performing in Winnipeg with about 12 leading musicians from the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, in addition to featuring acclaimed Israeli singer Chen Levi-- a true feast for your senses. Zimbalista can play all sorts of instruments, some of which I don’t know the names of. It is a great experience to watch his lightening quick hands and hear the enchanting array of rhythmic sounds and beats & pulses. Zimbalista is an energetic, fun performer and audiences are swept along with his enthusiasm and pulsating beats. His programs are taken from the classical, blues, jazz and occasionally from the rock repertoire. The  you-tube videos above  and below will give you a sense of his performance.

Zimbalista developed his skills in Tel Aviv and was inspired by a drummer at a wedding when he was just five. He exudes natural talent and will be giving workshops to the students of Gray Academy while he is in town. When he was last in Winnipeg, both my children participated in a workshop with him. I remember that they came home all geared up to turn every household item into a percussion instrument! He had ignited their imagination and interest and they were so excited to tell me about their experience.

A winner of several international competitions, including the Francois Shapira Prize, Zimbalista has performed at the Kennedy Center, with the Detroit Symphony, the Israel Philharmonic Symphonica, the Brazilera Ankara Symphony, Schleswig Holstein and Stresa Music Festivals and Istanbul Music Festival to name just a few. His CD, Desert Beat is issued by
"Koch Discovery" & Music for Marimba & Piano by" Zimbasound"

During 2002-2003, Chen served as the Artistic Director of Ashdod Orchestra. Since 2004, he has been the Artistic Director of the Science and Music Festival at Weitzman Institute and
the Artistic Director of TAM TAM, an annual International Percussion Festival.

If you haven' t had a chance to see Zimbalista perform, you won't want to miss him this time. If you have seen him, you, like me, will want to see him again.

To get your tickets for the Negev Gala, click here or contact the JNF Office at 204- 947-0207.


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.