Raising her voice

American-Israeli musician Ariella Zeitlin-Hoffman sings with her violin on ‘The Voice Israel.’

January 24, 2017 20:45
‘I’M CONSTANTLY exploring ways that I can connect more with my audience and bring what it that I wan

‘I’M CONSTANTLY exploring ways that I can connect more with my audience and bring what it that I want to bring when I perform,’ says violinist Ariella Zeitlin-Hoffman seen here on ‘The Voice Israel.’. (photo credit: MICHAEL LOUBOTIN)


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Ariella Zeitlin-Hoffman made aliya in 2006 when she was 18.

Since then, the talented violinist and singer has accomplished many things; graduating with a masters in violin performance, getting married and most recently being chosen from thousands of contestants for the newest season of The Voice Israel.

She sat down with The Jerusalem Post to discuss auditioning with a Bruno Mars song, being mentored by Aviv Geffen and life after The Voice.

Where did you grow up and how was music involved in your early life?

I was born in Baltimore. I’ve always sung in the shower and I’ve been playing violin since I was eight. I was always involved in musical productions in school. I was Annie in my [school] production. I was also involved in choirs, but I never studied it. I just always loved singing.

When did it become something that you started to take more seriously?

After I finished my degree. I have a master’s in violin performance from The Reuven Academy in Givat Ram.

When I was finished, I was looking for direction. There was a point where I was playing for a couple of different orchestras. But I was looking for ways to connect with people more. I felt with just the violin, that I was missing an element that a lot of people want.

People need the words in order to connect with music oftentimes. I’m constantly exploring ways that I can connect more with my audience and bring what it that I want to bring when I perform. That was about two years ago. But The Voice was the first really big stage that I’ve ever sung on.

How did it come about that you decided to audition for ‘The Voice’?

A lot of people suggested it to me, but I was very back and forth because of my religious beliefs. I come from a very religious area in Baltimore.

Because of my background and the culture of women singing, I was always very hesitant to do anything with it. Then I did a lot of researching, learning and talking to rabbis about the issue of Kol Isha [Jewish religious prohibition on men listening to women singing]. I ended up going in a more modern direction anyway in life and am connected to more modern Orthodox rabbis. My husband and I studied this subject for so long that he got so sick of it. For months, I was obsessed with it and needed to know everything about it. Then I spoke to a particular rabbi and he explained to me that in today’s day and age, it’s not really relevant. Essentially, there are bigger problems. That was why I went on the program because I felt that in a larger context, I wanted to drive that point home. It bothers me that people are so obsessed with this specific topic.

Is it something that you’ve had to deal with since being on ‘The Voice’?

I have spoken about it. I’ve been willing to talk and open on the subject.

Although most people are not so concerned. Even the head rabbi of Herzliya, I saw his wife, and she said that she heard I was on The Voice and that it was so exciting. People have generally been very supportive and excited. The concept of Kol Isha is not as taboo as it once was; I’m not the first person to do it. There is so much more to my story than just the fact that I’m religious. I’m also a violinist.

What was auditioning for ‘The Voice’ like? It was incredibly nerve-wracking! Of course you only think about being successful when you’re going. But five minutes before I got on stage, I realized that they hadn’t promised me anything. There was no guarantee that any of the judges would turn around.

The thought hit me that my audition could be really bad. But thank God, it was actually really good.

What song did you sing? “Marry You” by Bruno Mars.

How many other people tried out?

There were about 4,000 who tried out for the blind auditions. I made it through that and the next stage is what’s called the battle round.

Each mentor has 12 people who they choose, and once they have 12, the show whittles it down to one person.

The show is three months long. The whole first month is just auditions.

That’s a third of the show. Then you have what we’re in now, which is the battle rounds. That lasts until the end of January. You have two people who go up against each other and only one of them is chosen.

Who is your mentor?

Aviv Geffen, which is not too shabby! But to be honest, none of them would have been. I would have been happy with any of them. The other mentors are Miri Mesika, Shlomi Shabbat and Avraham Tal. They’re all big names.

How much time do you actually get to spend with Aviv Geffen?

I haven’t spent any time with him yet. My understanding is that you don’t get to spend time with your mentor unless you make it through the battle rounds to the live auditions.

How much input do you have in the songs you’ll be performing?

It’s a joint decision, but the songs for the battle rounds are chosen by the mentors. They could choose any song, and more than that, they could pair you up with any of the other contestants.

It could be that I get paired with someone whose voice doesn’t match mine. We’ll see.

When is the finale? It will be in the middle of March.

In what ways has your life changed since joining ‘The Voice’?

I was never around a television production crew before, and you see how detail-oriented they are. They show me on TV for six minutes, but so much goes into it. They sift through hours of footage. So I’ve learned a lot about production. I just produced a single for Hanukka and I did the video myself. I found it fascinating and I realized that my experience on The Voice has already been incredibly useful as an artist, to have that exposure.

When I finish with The Voice, I want to put out an album.

To follow Ariella: www.facebook.com/ Ariellazhoffman/?fref=ts

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