A cultural bond

Ariel Zuckermann conducts the Rishon Lezion Symphony Orchestra with the Aviv Competition winners.

Orchestra. [File] (photo credit: Wikimedia commons)
Orchestra. [File]
(photo credit: Wikimedia commons)
Israeli musicians of several generations will perform at a special concert with the Rishon Lezion Symphony Orchestra under Ariel Zuckermann’s baton, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation (AICF), which supports young and promising musicians of tomorrow in the first stages of their studies, providing them with various types of scholarships.
This support is often crucial for their future careers. The AICF also holds the annual Aviv Competitions, and the soloists in this concert are all competition winners from previous years.
Zuckermann, cellist Hillel Zori and violinist Guy Braunstein are all former winners of the Aviv Competitions who are at the peak of their careers, while 16th Aviv Competition winners pianist Tomer Gvirtsman, violinist Daniel Ajzenstadt and French horn player Gal Raviv are just starting out.
In an interview from a café in Berlin, Zuckermann says that for young musicians “This will be an important concert.
Appearing with a fine orchestra on a wellrespected stage, together with their older colleagues, will be a very meaningful experience. And we all owe a lot to the America- Israel Cultural Foundation.”
Born in Israel in 1973, Zuckermann started playing piano at the age of five, switching to the flute at 10. After completing his army service, he continued his musical education abroad. Winning several important international competitions, he played under conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta and Riccardo Muti in such orchestras as the Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio, the Munich Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Bavarian State Opera.
“I planned to stick with the flute, but even reading orchestral scores has always attracted me. I finally switched to conducting probably because the orchestral repertoire is so rich, especially compared to that of the flute. My greatest good fortune was to meet an excellent teacher, Jorma Panula, with whom I studied at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm.”
Upon graduation from Munich’s Musikhochschule, Zuckermann was appointed music director of the Georgian Chamber Orchestra. He also served as assistant conductor to Ivan Fischer with the Budapest Festival Orchestra and now has a solid international conducting career.
Besides the richness of the repertoire, what else attracts him to conducting? “The conductor is the only musician who doesn’t play any instrument but rather passes his music ideas to dozens of talented musicians. And now, it is not this power that attracts me but the magic of interaction, which combines your trust in the musicians (because if they don’t want to play, they won’t) together with authority (otherwise, they will never play the way you want them to).”
To what does Zuckermann attribute his success? “There is no simple answer,” he says. “It is all so dynamic. Now I am quite satisfied with my career, but it could change any day. One needs good teachers, and I was really lucky to meet some. You have to work hard to be prepared for every concert.”
What advice would he give to beginner musicians, as the competition in the music world today is so fierce? “To keep their passion of music burning, to be honest with themselves, to be attentive to the smallest details of performance and, while being aware of what is happening around them, go straight ahead.”
The concert will take place on February 5 at 8:30 p.m. at Heichal Hatarbut in Rishon Lezion. For reservations: VIP tickets (03) 517-4177; regular and subsidized tickets NIS 75-65.
Tel: (03) 948-4840