Israeliness intact

Violinist Pinchas Zukerman is bringing his Ottawa-based ensemble to Tel Aviv, where he'll fit right in.

violin 88 (photo credit: )
violin 88
(photo credit: )
Nowadays, acclaimed Israeli violinist Pinchas Zukerman, who has been the Artistic Director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa for about 10 years, divides his time between solo performances with major orchestras throughout the world and conducting. And he also performs chamber music. The Zukerman Chamber Players - violinists Zukerman and Jessica Linnebach, violists Jethro Marks and Ashan Pillai and cellist Amanda Forsyth - will give a concert on May 3rd at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center. The program of the evening, presented in the framework of the Master Musicians at the Center, will feature Schubert's String trio D. 471, Beethoven's String quintet Opus 29 and String quintet No. 2 by Brahms. Zukerman inaugurated his current ensemble about six years ago. "The [Ottawa] orchestra members are excellent musicians, he says, and we immediately started playing string quintets and trios together. From the very beginning it was simply good - and it keeps going." Now, the ensemble performs about 30 concerts a year, to say nothing of appearances at various summer festivals throughout the world. Zukerman accentuates that he enjoys full understanding with the ensemble members. Not only are three of them Ottawa orchestra players, but three of them are also his former students, "and we speak more or less the same language, which gives us the opportunity to play chamber music according to the international standards. "And I've been playing music together with my wife [the orchestra's first cellist Amanda Forsyth] since we first met. This is the ensemble's base - we live, play chamber music and work in the orchestra together." Lately, the ensemble has begun performing with pianists like Yefim Bronfman, as well as with woodwind and brass players. Ashan Pillai is the only musician who does not belong to the Ottawa orchestra. "He is the first violist of the Barcelona orchestra; I've known him for years and he suits the ensemble perfectly, both as a musician and as a human being, because this is what chamber music is about." Still, this successful international career has not changed Zukerman a bit - he speaks in a straightforward Israeli manner and does not pretend to be what he is not. When asked about the ensemble members as his pupils, he immediately replies: "Well, once they were students, but not anymore. We all play on the same professional level. And I am not a violin professor." And he is not ready to talk about teaching music in a newspaper interview. "Concept? Approach? No. I have not even written a book about teaching violin, because you have also to show the things, so how can you write it? Learning takes years and years and years. And this is not about playing, because what is violin? Just an instrument, after all, and it is not that important. But you have to develop a personality, it is like raising your child; you give to him and you hope that something will come out of it." The concert takes place at TAPAC on May 3 at 8 p.m. For reservations: (03) 692-7777.