Dedicated to their artistic director

The Israel Chamber Orchestra performs a tribute to late violinist and conductor Rudolf Barshai.

Rudolf Barshai (photo credit: Courtesy)
Rudolf Barshai
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Israel Chamber Orchestra will perform a much-anticipated tribute concert dedicated to the memory of Rudolf Barshai (1924 – 2010), an outstanding Russian Jewish violinist and conductor. After immigrating to Israel in 1977, he served as the orchestra’s artistic director. The concert features three Bach violin concerti, as well as pieces by Prokofiev and Shostakovich, arranged by Barshai.
Renowned violinist cum conductor Dmitry Sitkovetsky and young violinist Elisabeth Basov-Darskaya will participate in the concert. The same program was performed earlier this year by the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, which Barshai founded.
The concert was initiated by Rudolf Barshai’s son Walter, who will be present at the concert.
Sitkovetsky was born into a musical family. His father was prominent violinist Julian Sitkovetsky, Barshai’s close friend and music associate. His mother, pianist Bella Davidenko. He was soon recognized as a child prodigy. After graduating from the Moscow Conservatory, he emigrated to the West, where he continued his studies with the legendary Ivan Galamian at the Juilliard School of Music.
“I am the fourth generation of musicians in our family,” says a globetrotting musician in a phone interview from his London home.
“And this is not easy. One of my reasons for emigrating was my strong desire to build a career of my own and not to be compared to my parents. At Juilliard, I applied to Galamian and not Dorothy Delay, who was known for creating stars, because I had heard three of his students who were all different one from another, and I liked it.
Galamian was very kind to me both personally and professionally. He was ultimately dedicated to his students and was equally fair to his more talented and less talented students.
That said, if a student canceled a lesson, he immediately called me.
And although the educational approach in Moscow was totally different, I have to admit that I was lucky to study with a roster of outstanding musicians.”
Sitkovetsky started conducting more than 20 years ago, as he has founded the New European Strings Chamber Orchestra in 1990. “I decided to create an orchestra that reflected my life story. Eleven musicians were Russian or Russian trained string players, while the other 11 were Westerners, all of them distinguished musicians. Finland, where I at the time served as an artistic director of a music festival, seemed like the perfect place for this orchestra – a point between the West and Russia. Quite a few violinists have become conductors, but not to forget that conducting is a profession in its own right – and I keep learning that from my colleagues to this day,” he says.
Sitkovetsky divides his time between performances as a soloist, conducting, arranging and directing festivals. As a soloist, he has performed with a number of the world’s leading orchestras, as well as at high-profile festivals. He currently holds the position of music director of the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra in North Carolina.
“Mine is an interesting life, and routine is never a part of it. The music programs that I perform are varied.
For example, even an overplayed Tchaikovsky concerto I have not performed for about two years.”
Having emigrated to the West in 1977, Sitkovetsky has been returning to his native Russia as a musician since 1988. “For me, it is important to return to my musical roots. After all, I spent almost 23 years of my life there. My family and my very close friends are still there, and I visit the grave of my father, who died of cancer when I was only three years old. For me, he has always been a legend.
Apart from that, it is a fascinating place to visit. People are changing, and the major world becomes a part of their lives. Musical life is rather weird there – you can see posters of big pop stars who are performing there, while people like myself play practically for free, just giving back. In recent years, I have been conducting more than soloing, and I have conducted several first rate orchestras there.”

The concert will be performed on December 18 & 19 at the Recanati Auditorium of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. For reservations: (03) 518-8845