Mostly magical music

Mostly Mozart in the Galilee offers classical music lovers three days of stellar concerts and master classes.

Haifa Music Center director Ada Pelleg (photo credit: courtesy)
Haifa Music Center director Ada Pelleg
(photo credit: courtesy)
The Mostly Mozart in the Galilee mini-festival is considered by many as the curtain raiser for the classical music concert season in this country. As such, judging by the quality of performers lined up for the three-dayer, which will run from October 10 to October 12, local classical music lovers can expect good things over thecoming months.
Mostly Mozart is the brainchild of the Haifa Music Center and its director Ada Pelleg. She will also take the conductor’s podium for the two concerts lined up over the weekend up north, with veteran Israel Philharmonic Orchestra principal flutist Yossi Arnheim and Chinese-American pianist Xiayin Wang also giving master classes.
Wang will open the proceedings when she performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C Major, No.13 together with the Mostly Mozart in the Galilee Orchestra and Pelleg. The rest of the program, which will take place at the Beit Ha’am auditorium in Kfar Blum, features Mozart’s Divertimento K 136 and Tchaikovsky’s stirring Souvenir de Florence.
Wang brings an intriguing cultural mix to her craft. She was born in Shanghai and moved to the US at the age of 18. Chinese classical musicians are generally known for their technique and attention to detail. That is something that is instilled in them from a very early age.
“I studied at the Shanghai Conservatory for nine years, from elementary school all the way up to high school, and that was nine years straight of very solid training and very strict fundamental learning of technique,” she explains.
While that may sound a bit tough for a child to handle, Wang says it laid the foundation for her later career and that she is grateful for the education she received there.
“I think that was very necessary for me. I think that was, for me, the right way to do it because I achieved all the skills and the technique of the craft. I learned a lot in those nine years.”
The regime at the conservatory was uncompromising.
“The system was very strict,” recalls Wang. “All the kids had to practice at least three hours a day and had to learn all about theory, ear training, dictation, sight reading and singing – all those supplementary very important aspects of music.”
Strict regimen notwithstanding, surely there is only so much you can impart to a youngster in terms of musical expertise, without the requisite degree of maturity that simply cannot be taught within the cloistered surroundings of an educational institution.
“A child is child and has the mentality of a child, and a child does not have enough life experience to be able to express music,” observes Wang.
“Your musical development grows with your life experience. Of course, the older you are, the more experienced you are, not just with the music but with the world, with people, with things that happen in life. As you grow older, you develop your emotions towards people, and that helps you bring more of your personal feelings to the music.
The pieces I played when I was 13 had much more feeling to them when I played them when I was older, when I understood more about life and love,” she says.
Over the last few years, Wang has managed to imbue many of her live performances and recordings with commensurate feeling. Her solorecording career began in 2007, about a decade after she had moved to the US. In addition to Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 10 in C Major, the debut release featured works by Bach, Ravel, Scriabin and Gershwin. It was an audaciously broad venture for a first fruit offering and was well received.
Wang says it took her a while to adjust to life in America, on all sorts of levels.
“Language was the big problem to begin with, but after three of four years, I felt comfortable,” she recalls.
That was on the day-to-day front, but presumably there were very different approaches to music and performing music that she also had to take on board.
“I felt I had very solid technical training and skills that I brought with me from China, but when I moved to the States it was a whole different world. There is a much freer way of thinking about everything [in the US]. You can bring much more of your own character and personality to the music. And, of course, as I have grown older, I have brought more of my own identity to the music I play. That opened my eyes and my ears a lot more, and I become more daring, more challenging and more adventurous.”
Wang has clearly made her way into the epicenter of the American musical psyche and recently released an acclaimed recording of the piano music of 20th century pianist-composer Earl Wild, including his celebrated Gershwin arrangements.
Wang’s penchant for risk taking will, no doubt, also come across at her Kfar Blum date next week, and presumably the students and others who attend her master class will gain much from her professional and life experience on both sides of the world.
Pelleg will be in action again on October 12 when she conducts Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D Major and his aria “Et Incarnatus Est” – soprano Ira Bertman will fill the starring vocalist role in the latter, while Arnheim will perform with the titular instrument in the former – and Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C Major.
The second concert will take place at the Industrial Park in Nazareth. After light refreshments, it will begin at 8 p.m.
For tickets and more information about Mostly Mozart in the Galilee: 050-534-2687 and