Eilat's Classicameri Festival - an annual musical
event produced by the Israel Chamber Orchestra together with the
Isrotel hotel chain - this year spans over two weekends, January 28-31
and February 3-6. The program, with musical pleasure written all over
it, features popular pieces by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn
and others, as well as lighter music, such as operatic parodies
performed by David Sebba, an evening of musicals and what not. The list
of artists includes conductors Roberto Paternostro, Yoav Talmi, Gabor
Hollerung, Roni Porat, who is known also for his presenter's gift,
cellist Rafael Wallfisch, violinists Latica Honda-Rosenberg and Rachel
Baron-Pine, and vocalists Daniela Lugassi and Maria Kabelsky.
a phone interview from her Berlin home on the eve of her debut with the
Israel Chamber Orchestra, violinist Honda-Rosenberg speaks of her
"From my early childhood I collected LPs of Itzhak Perlman and
Pinhas Zukerman and always said that I want to be Jewish, because I
believed that that was exactly what I needed to be in order to play the
violin as beautiful as they did," she says. "My mother would stay
silent, but my father would reply, 'you can be Jewish if you want,' and
I did not know what to think."
Born into a musical family - her father was a Japanese singer,
and her cellist mother came from Croatia - Honda-Rosenberg grew up in a
tiny German town, where she always felt like a stranger: "Because of
the music, because of my black hair and the shape of my eyes, because
of the name, which nobody could pronounce properly and which kids made
unpleasant comments about."
Only later, when Honda-Rosenberg was 11 and learned
about the Holocaust at school, did her mother revealed to her that she
was Jewish and not Croatian, and that her family had perished in
Auschwitz while she was hidden by their gentile servants. "Since then,
I dreamed about coming to Israel, to meet my mother's surviving cousin,
to see the country."
Honda-Rosenberg DID eventually come to Israel as a soloist with
the Haifa Youth Orchestra. "This was for the first time in my life,
that I was totally accepted by the kids of my age," she recalls. Since
then, she's been coming to Israel on various musical occasions, most
recently as a guest of the Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival, which she
calls "the most important musical event for me." She has also
participated in the educational program of the Jerusalem Music Center
as a teacher.
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played violin from the age of four, at nine Honda-Rosenberg became a
student of Tibor Varga, who she calls her "father in violin," and went
on to study under the legendary Russian teacher Zakhar Bron in Madrid.
"As a teacher, Bron has incredible instincts. He worked with me
tirelessly, giving, giving and giving. And when you see somebody
working so hard, you too start working like mad," she smiles.
In 1994 Honda-Rosenberg won one of the major music contests in
her country - the Deutsche Musikrat. "They really care about the
winners," she says. "I got some 40 concert assignments and as a result
I met many important musicians."
Approximately at the same time she also began to
rethink her musical direction, "asking myself if I should accept
everything my teachers tell me or filter it, and even more than that,
what is important for me in music. Learning violin demands a strict
discipline and suggests a lot of technical studies, and you can be
easily carried away by it. But the bottom line is understanding the
music and the culture behind it. This was a long period of re-awakening
for me and I struggled hard for it."
Honda-Rosenberg's crucial decision to participate in the
Tchaikovsky Music competition in 1998, before which everything was
preordained in her musical life, was all her own, and she won the
silver medal. That success paved the way to an international career,
and nowadays, Honda-Rosenberg, who plays a 1732 Domenico Montagnana
violin, appears throughout the world as a soloist and chamber musician.
TEACHING IS Honda-Rosenberg's other passion. Lately, she was
granted a professorship at the prestigious Berlin University of Arts
and is now regarded as one of the cosmopolitan city's leading violin
teachers. "Teaching suggests a great responsibility," she says. "You
need to grasp your student's personality, to realize whether
appreciation or criticism will work for him or for her better, and by
no means to project yourself upon them."
So what is important for her in her life?
"To be, despite all the temptations, faithful and honest to
myself, to be able to share with the people around me the values I have
received from the others. No matter in what area, be it playing,
teaching music, or life in general."
Latica Honda-Rosenberg plays Mendelsohnn's concerto with the
Israel Chamber Orchestra under its new Artistic Director Roberto
Paternostro on January 29. She performs a chamber music program
together with orchestra members on the following day. For the detailed
program of the festival visit the Israel Chamber Orchestra site at
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