Lahav Shani bring the Philharmonic Orchestra to a new era

Lahav Shani steps into the big shoes of Zubin Mehta.

THE ISRAEL Philharmonic Orchestra (photo credit: ODED ANTMAN)
THE ISRAEL Philharmonic Orchestra
(photo credit: ODED ANTMAN)
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is entering a new era. After 50 years with Zubin Mehta at the helm of the IPO, Lahav Shani will step up to the podium as its new music director.
historic move will be expressed in a series of nine concerts beginning December 22 and continuing through January 6.
“This month we are set to usher in a new era,” Avi Shoshani, the IPO’s secretary-general, exuberantly told The Jerusalem Post. “I think we made a good match.”
Lahav, who was chosen by Mehta, the administration staff, and the members of the orchestra, is 30 – the same age as Mehta was when he began his IPO reign.
However, Lahav has his own set of impressive credentials and abilities. He began his relationship with the IPO when he played the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto in 2007 with Zubin Mehta, and appeared as soloist several times after. While a student at Tel Aviv University, he studied the double bass and often joined the IPO bass section as a substitute.
“I know the orchestra from the inside,” said Shani. “You might call me a child of the orchestra.”
Born in Tel Aviv, he began his piano studies at age six with Hannah Shalgi and continued with Prof. Arie Vardi at the Buchman-Mehta School of Music at Tel Aviv University. He furthered his studies in conducting in Germany with Prof. Christian Ehwald and in piano with Prof. Fabio Bidini at the Academy of Music Hanns Eisler Berlin. While in Germany, he was also mentored by Daniel Barenboim.
Shani has been guest conductor with some of the finest orchestras in Europe, and in September 2018 was appointed to the position of Chief Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, (making him the youngest Chief Conductor in the orchestra’s history). In 2017, he was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Shani will maintain these positions and other guest appearances while fulfilling his responsible position with the IPO.
He points out that when one is a Guest Conductor, your job is to get the best results as quickly as possible. As resident conductor of the IPO, he has the “luxury” of experimenting with the music and collaborating with the musicians in order to transmit precisely the composer’s ideas as well as the sound and energy the music requires.
Shani will share the stage at the nine performances with the noted pianist Martha Argerich. She is one of the prominent pianists in the world. Her home is in Buenos Aries, Argentina, where her grandparents emigrated from Russia in the late 1800s at the beneficence of financier and philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch. Baron Hirsch founded the Jewish Colonization Association whose goal was to set up agricultural colonies outside of Russia, and Argentina was one of the target locations.
Born in 1941, Argerich, who began piano studies at age five, was considered a child prodigy . In 1955, she and her family moved to Europe, a decision made possible by Argentina’s President Juan Peron, who appointed her parents to diplomatic posts at the Argentinian Embassy in Vienna.
There she was able to continue her music studies, and met and collaborated with musicians such as Clauadio Abbado and Mehta who were also studying in Vienna at that time. Today, she balances her solo appearances with producing recordings, world broadcasts, performing chamber music, and adjudicating at prestigious competitions. Her mentorship and support has enabled many young musicians in their careers.
“Last season, she performed in Israel with the IPO and Zubin Mehta,” recalls Shoshani. “I asked her when would she like to come back, and she answered, “I would be delighted to come when Lahav conducts.”
“So here she is and will perform Ravel Piano Concerto in G Major and Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 2 with the orchestra and Lahav Shani, a colleague of whom she is genuinely fond. It will be a reunion for her and the orchestra, as well as a celebration of an important milestone in the history of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.”