December 10, 2009/23 Kislev, 5770
Amikam Kimelman is the principal of the Rimon Music School in Ramat Hasharon. And when he speaks about the Masa Rimon program, which is sponsored by the Jewish Agency and brings Jewish musicians from around the world for two-year periods of study, he sees before him the bridge which connects, through music, the two sides of the world, transforming Rimon into an international institution.
A native Jerusalemite, Kimelman graduated from the Berkley Music College, which has an agreement with the Rimon School. His experiences with his students are thus perfectly natural, as he speaks to them in their language.
Jazz-loving Israelis know Kimelman as a highly regarded saxophonist, arranger and composer, who took part in jazz ensembles such as “Overdraft” and “Jazz Knights Hard.” He has played, composed and arranged for many famous musicians, including Gidi Gov, Yehoram Gaon, Alon Oleartchik, Shalom Hanoch, Nurit Galron, and others. He currently serves as the musical director of the Tel-Aviv Jazz Orchestra and leads the Human Factory quintet.
When we approached Kimelman and asked to speak with him about the students in Masa Rimon – Jewish musicians who come to spend a year or two in Rimon – he was over his head with work, organizing a fundraising campaign for the Azerbaijani pianist Emil Mamedov, who is currently undergoing cancer treatments in Israel. The Masa Rimon students are heavily involved in this campaign, which will reach its peak with a benefit concert at the Terarm studio-club in Hod Hasharon. The performance will give the students exposure and also a taste of Israeli generosity, as it benefits an illustrious musician who has performed in the Monterey Jazz Festival and is known worldwide.
As Kimelman points out, this is not the only thing to which the Masa Rimon students are exposed over the course of their stay. The musicians are certainly motivated to come to Rimon by a strong desire to get to know Israel, but they are also driven by the special agreement between Berkley and Rimon, an internationally renowned school that has been active in various musical fields for 25 years. It offers one hundred and eighty tracks, eight fields of study, sixty ensembles, international workshops, and more.
“Coming to Rimon and working with one hundred exceptionally talented teachers who have raised and nurtured dozens of musicians that have taken over stages in Israel, the U.S. and around the world is a very attractive option,” Kimelman says. “There are some who remain here after finishing this track. After getting to know Israel, becoming immersed in the country, and spending 24 hours a day with Israeli music and the Israeli landscape, they come to the conclusion that this is the place for them.”
On Wednesday, December 9, several Masa Rimon students performed in a pre-Hanukkah program that will be featured on Israeli television. The performance included their original arrangements for traditional Chanukah songs.