Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Israeli Chamber Project


February 1st. 2012 at 7.30 at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall
Founded in 2008, the Israeli Chamber Project is a stunning group of young, but accomplished, entrepreneurial Israeli musicians who live in the United States and share – besides their individual musical talent - a mission that connects them. As the group’s Executive Director and one of their two pianists, co- founder Assaff Weisman puts it:”Our mission rests on three pillars: First of all we feel passionate about giving something back to our native country, Israel. There is virtually zero funding for the arts available in Israel; the country simply cannot afford it. Therefore a lot of its most talented youth are leaving – like we did -- in order to further their education and their performance possibilities, which are necessary for an international career in music. This causes a “brain drain,” so to speak, leaving the country without good teachers to inspire the next generation. So we want to tour and give back to the younger generation, by teaching and inspiring them. Secondly, we are reaching out to the public in Israel with our concerts by not only focusing on the typical cultural centers such as with our concert series in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, but by bringing classical music also to Kibbutzim, to the Negev and Arab towns. We offer classical music culture to these more remote areas, where we like to introduce the music of traditional and contemporary composers. Our educational tours include master classes and also individual instrumental lessons at local music schools, and typically end with a concert, where we often include the students of the day. This is not a one-time deal; we are returning and are privileged to share in the progress. “And,” Weisman continues, “of course we reach out to the American public, here, at our new home, and encouraging a cultural sensitivity for Israel. We are all Israeli and our common background is very connecting. People have told me lots of times that there is a special feeling which projects to the audiences. We support Israeli arts by commissioning works by contemporary Israeli composers, among them Matan Porat, Jonathan Keren, Amit Gilutz, and Gilad Cohen. But of course we have a wide range of repertory which we perform. Our honest approach without any pretense has been rewarded by a very positive response from our audiences so far, and our first CD will be released by the Azica-label this season, distributed by Naxos.” The group, which consists of eight core members, includes a string quartet, two pianists, a harpist and a clarinetist. At their Carnegie Hall debut, two to six musicians will perform in varying combinations. Each of the musicians has already a reputation in their field. Assaff, former student of Juilliard’s eminent Herbert Stessin (also teacher to Jeremy Denk and Orly Shaham) who had helped nurture some of the most successful pianists of the younger generation, is teaching four classes at Juilliard’s Evening division himself, besides concertizing extensively with Israeli Chamber Project and also in his solo- career, as concert pianist. Prior to his studies in New York, Mr. Weisman studied with Professor Victor Derevianko in Israel and was supported, like all members of the Israeli Chamber Project, by scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. Many of the artists go way back to a shared upbringing in their hometowns in Israel. Others met at Juilliard. Says violinist Itamar Zorman, the youngest member of the group:”Michal and Tibi took me into a practice room, explained to me about the group and its ideas and I said, of course I would love to join. I had played before as a trio with Michal, who is an amazing cellist, and the pianist Itamar Golan. With Sivan, our harpist, I had also played at a festival at the Jersualem Academy in 2004. “ Zorman is the winner of the 2011 Tchaikovsky International Competition in Russia and grew up in Tel Aviv where he met Weisman. He was inspired by two other young Israeli musicians, who helped him tremendously, through the Ilana Feher Foundation. Violinists Ittai Shapira and Hagai Shaham were not only instrumental in getting him a grant that allowed for a recording and a debut recital, they were also a true support in giving sound advice in making decisions, concerning his future career steps. Performing within the Israeli Chamber Project, not only is “a lot of fun, since I really love playing with this group of people,” but he also believes in their mission, the opportunity to pay back the kind of support he received: “The level of education in Israel overall is very high. There are many teachers of the older generation, who received their training in the former Soviet Union and there is also a good vision about music. There are some big studios and some amazing talent. But I am trying to introduce a new point of view which won’t interfere with, but enhance their work. Besides my love for Schubert and Brahms, I am also bringing my love for contemporary music along and I found in general that Israelis are a very open minded audience. At the same time I enjoy performing Israeli contemporary composers in America, as well as new music in general. It maybe generational, symbolizing the rhythm of our time. Of course there is something in modern music, touching on the general human condition just like in any music, but there is also something specific in its modern idiom. Our responsibility as performers is to present it as masterfully performed as we strive for with the classical icons, even though too much reverence stands sometimes in the way of just being in the moment; another ‘forte’ of contemporary music that does not carry the weight of its own history.” Last summer, attending the Marlboro Festival, Zorman and harpist Sivan Magen met with composer Matan Porat. “We performed Matan’s requiem, an extremely effective piece, especially when we played it at midnight at the Festival.” This coming summer he will attend the music festival at Verbier, hoping to open up yet new horizons.Program on February 1, 2012 at 7.30 At Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie HallShostakovich, Trio for piano, Violin, Cello in C minor,Op. 8 Sebastian Currier, Night Time for Harp and violinMartinů Chamber Music No.1Paul Ben Haim Three Songs Without Words (arr. for Clarinet and Harp)Brahms Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, in A minor, Op. 114 Tibi Cziger, clarinetSergey Tarashansky,violaAssaff Weisman, pianoMichal Korman, celloItamar Zorman, violinSivan Magen, harp

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