Follow the Pied Piper

Flutist Maxim Rubtsov performs with the Rishon Lezion Symphony Orchestra.

The Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon Lezion (photo credit: WWW.ISORCHESTRA.CO.IL)
The Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon Lezion
(photo credit: WWW.ISORCHESTRA.CO.IL)
Between October 10 and 13 in Rishon Lezion, Tel Aviv and Rehovot, the Rishon Lezion Symphony will present a new program, featuring John Corigliano’s Pied Piper Fantasy, Concerto for Flute and Orchestra; Betty Olivero’s Adagio for Chamber Orchestra; and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. Stephen D’Agostino conducts, while Russian flutist Maxim Rubtsov makes his Israeli debut playing the solo in The Pied Piper.
In a phone interview from his Moscow home, Rubtsov, 38, a multifaceted musician who plays classical flute with orchestras and chamber ensembles, as well as performing jazz, talks about his career and The Pied Piper, which has never been performed in Israel.
“Just a few minutes ago I spoke with my uncle, who lives in Israel. We have not seen each other for more than 20 years, and I am looking forward to this thrilling family reunion – my mother and her sister are going to Israel with me. I started playing music at the age of five, and my aunt was my first accompanist at many concerts. They will also meet their colleagues who immigrated to Israel years ago and joined Israeli musical bodies. Just think – all these moving meetings of friends are due to the power of music. And the piece I will be playing with the orchestra, The Pied Piper, deals with exactly the same thing – the power of music,” he says.
Although he started playing music at an early age and was quite successful, in his teens Rubtsov was not sure that it was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
“I thought, ‘A grown man playing a penny trumpet? Really?’ But it all changed in an instant. My father, who was a naval engineer, was blessed with perfect pitch. He was not a musician, but his sense of hearing was amazing.
By just listening to the sound of the huge engine of a ship – the size of a fivestory building – he could pinpoint the damage. So one day he returned home from a long voyage and brought me an excellent flute that he had bought in Japan. It was impossible to compare it with the flute I played. The moment I produced the first sound from it, I knew that this was what I wanted to do for my entire life,” he recounts.
“Granted, classical music is at the center of my activities, but moods change all the time, and to express them you play various kinds of music,” he says. “I was lucky and privileged to play with such outstanding musicians as the Brubeck brothers, the sons of the legendary Dave Brubeck. Intellect rather than beautiful sound is important in jazz because to create an interesting, dramatic and hypnotizing improvisation requires a lot of thinking. It really is a difficult task. But classical music provides good schooling, so if you also have a trained voice, as singers put it (and I hope I’ve got one), the combination is great. Also, friendship with such musicians opens your horizons. For me, hearing Dave Brubeck in the 1980s when he first came to Moscow to play with the Russian National Orchestra was the first sign that I should keep in touch with jazz musicians as well.”
Rubtsov is a member of a woodwind quintet that was established 15 years ago.
“We started playing together in order to practice. In a symphony orchestra, the woodwind musicians sit in the center of the stage and often play together as part of large symphonic pieces. To play better, they need to perform together from time to time. That is how it all started. Now it is an ensemble that was formed by friends, and we perform at home and abroad. For example, we performed Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf in Bermuda, with the mother of actor Michael Douglas as the narrator. A highlight of our career came in 2005 when we won the Grand Prix at a major competition in Japan, in which about 40 other ensembles participated. I don’t know how, but through an immense effort we managed to play even better than our major competitor, the ensemble of the Berlin Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. They were really good.”
In regard to The Pied Piper, Rubtsov says, “It is a unique piece by American composer John Corigliano, who won an Oscar for his music in the film The Red Violin. The piece, which is written in modern idiom, ends with the Pied Piper and the children leaving the stage; but I changed it: We all come back. That is the power, the magic and the enigma of music.”
Maxim Rubtsov performs with the Rishon Lezion Symphony on October 10 to 13. For details and reservations, call (03) 948-4840.