This week, the Ra’anana Symphonette will have the rare privilege and pleasure of
performing under the baton, and bow, of internationally acclaimed Israeli
violinist-conductor Shlomo Mintz. Although Mintz and the orchestra have shared a
stage once before, this will be the first time they will do business together on
a more extended basis.
Mintz and the Symphonette will perform three
concerts this week – tonight, Thursday and Saturday, all starting at 8:30 p.m. –
with works by Glinka, Mendelssohn and Dvorak.
Mintz says he is delighted
to finally have the opportunity to get to grips with the Ra’anana Symphonette,
although his path has crossed that of some of the players in the
“We have not had the opportunity [to play together] so far mainly
due to time constraints,” he notes. “Of course some of the musicians I know from
further back from different occasions.”
Mintz was born in Moscow in
October 1957, and made aliyah with his family at the age of two. He began
studying with Hungarian-born Holon resident Ilona Feher, one of the last
representatives of the renowned Central European Violin School, at an early age.
Feher introduced Mintz to Isaac Stern, a prominent violin virtuoso known for
discovering new talents who soon became Mintz’s mentor.
discovered my talent, and I followed afterward,” Mintz observed several years
ago. His path to stardom was nothing short of meteoric and he began his stage
career at the age of just 11, as a soloist with the Israel Philharmonic
Orchestra, and he was soon in high demand by various orchestras, tenderness of
In terms of cultural baggage Mintz and the
Symphonette appear to be a snug fit, but the violinist prefers to focus on the
job in hand rather than national roots.
“I find that the common
denominator between musicians should always be about the music itself and not
their country of origin,” Mintz declares, adding that his place of birth does
not have much bearing on his choice of composers.
“In my opinion, every
musician who works on different levels and encounters different forms of music,
needs to suit himself to the specific situation. This has a lot to do with
Despite his periodic visits to this part of the world, Mintz was
also not given to passing judgment on the state of health of the classical music
community in Israel, and whether the influx of large numbers of Russian- born
musicians, in the mass aliyah of the early 1990s, has had a strong bearing on
the standard of the art form here.
“I believe that situations vary all
the time and it is difficult to answer this question, even without attempting to
do so in a diplomatic manner. It all depends on the will of the conductor and
musicians to create. The preparations for the concert have much to do with the
attained quality. We should examine the situation individually and not in
MINTZ MAINTAINS a very tight performing schedule throughout the
year and spends much of his time globetrotting between concert halls and
festivals. He even manages to fit in some festival artistic director
Does that leave him any time to take a look at new works,
composers and musicians? “Yes and no. It mainly depends on the time and
willingness to find something new. I am occupied with various other issues that
are not part of promoting creation, or discovering compositions. I have limited
time, as I also manage festivals, music academies, competitions and other
Still, I am always glad to hear about a new musician with
surprising abilities or a new piece that actually introduces something
Mintz was not the first musical wunderkind and, of course, there
are plenty of examples of talented kids devoting most of their waking junior
hours to some discipline or other. But there have been some dismal instances of
youngsters experiencing burnout and eventually dropping out of the race. Mintz
believes it is very much a matter of how the individual copes with the pressures
of achieving success at such a young age.
“Next year, I will be
celebrating my 50th anniversary on-stage. During these past 50 years, I can
certainly say that I have experienced many highlights but I also have
encountered difficulties. In the end, the artist should develop his or her own
personal career, as well as maintaining the qualities that derive from the
essence of being an artist, and coping with difficulties that are not
necessarily music related.”
With that in mind, does Mintz ever wish he
had embarked on a career at a later stage? And does he have any
hindsight-supported tips for other talented young musicians? “I do not have any
specific advice, as any advice I could give might not necessarily be applicable.
Every young artist should acquire the intelligence for recognizing his
weaknesses as well as his strengths. It is important to note that any advice I
might have [to give] is related to [my] past experiences and situations and
might not be suitable and practical in the ‘Internet Era’. For this reason we
should examine each case in its own right.”
With his early start to his
career, and the time he spent with Feher and Stern, Mintz naturally feeds off
earlier musical sensibilities.
“I have always been known for closely
adhering to the original work and the composer’s instructions. But, certain
things are bound to stay the same, even in our ‘Internet Era’, such as the
morning sunrise. Having said that, there are many accompanying elements that can
assist and improve, and even make slight changes, but they will never change the
main principal of recreation.”Shlomo Mintz and the Raanana Symphonette
will perform at the Raanana Arts and Music Center tonight, Thursday and
Saturday, at 8:30 p.m. For more info: http://www.mishkanraanana. com. For
tickets: (09) 745-7773.