Gòn Halevi is a singer, pianist, actor and composer from Israel who’s currently studying for a Bachelor’s degree in voice at the Mannes School of Music in Manhattan.
Gòn Halevi (Photo by Camilo Gomez)
In June, a video showing a Japanese opera star performing an Israeli classic song “Horshat Ha’eucalyptus” in fluent Hebrew went viral on social media. Not many know that behind this amazing performance stands Israeli musician Gòn Halevi. Earlier this year, Gòn debuted “The Great Israeli American Songbook,” a collection of new arrangements of classic songs from the Golden Land and the Holy Land, with original music, to bring the world’s two largest Jewish communities closer together. In “The Great Israeli American Songbook” Gòn is joined by popular New York musicians cellist Jessie Reagen Mann, recorder virtuoso Tali Rubinstein, and singer Sasha Daniel.
Gòn has recently created and performed in “Nostalgia” – a concert dedicated to the Israeli Song Book, including Israel’s greatest songs of the past 100 years. In the show, he sings and plays his own arrangements. Among the songs there are some beautiful renditions of internationally known Israeli standards.
Graduating from the Thelma Yellin school, the famous Israeli high school of the arts, majoring in theater, Gòn was immediately chosen to perform the role of “Rolf” in the production of “The Sound of Music” at the Israeli Opera House in Tel Aviv, for which he received rave reviews. Just before he moved to America, music critics in Israel raved about his production of “Kshe’or Dolek Bachalonech” – a tribute to the greatest Israeli composer of the 20th century, Sasha Argov, for which he created the arrangements and performed, alongside singer Roni Ginossar. “The process of moving to New York was complex and full of thrilling adventures and waves of joy that continue to come from all sides,” Gòn tells A Wider Bridge. “Part of it was living in a city (or a country) whose society condemns homophobia and actually begins, so to speak, to become bored with the ignorant discussion of distinguishing the LGBT community from the rest of society. I felt comfortable to go out with guys and walk hand in hand with them on the street and to see that it’s just not interesting to anyone, it’s not unusual, it doesn’t annoy anybody.”
According to Gòn, coming out as gay and moving to America were all part of a one big journey. “I came out at the age of 19, following a long process that involved denial and repression, and especially prior to another process, even less simple, with the goal of setting myself free and letting me be me,” he says. “My family was supportive, hugging and loving from the first moment, as every family should be. I believe that in a better world this subject would be boring; everyone would do what they wanted, what they’re passionate about and what the tendency of his or her heart dictates, and we as a public or a community could enjoy the right to look from the side and smile when we felt like it. This is how it was at my home, until today.”
Despite living in America,Gòn never loses his connection to Israel and its LGBT community. “I follow closely the struggle of the LGBT community in Israel,” he says. “I read a lot about what is happening in Israel, and my heart is breaking. I see a line of leaders, ministers who in the name of religion educate the public to hate gays, lesbians and all that is perceived by the individual as different (someone said Arabs?). I think it’s sad, it makes us, Israelis, look like a third world country and it keeps the public away from the idea of free love, to everyone, at all times.”