A somber tune

On eve of Independence Day, flutist Noam Buchman will perform ‘Halil,’ written by Leonard Bernstein in memory of Yadin Tanenbaum, who was killed in Yom Kippur War.

Buchman 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Buchman 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘Music is my greatest love,” says Noam Buchman, a tall, bearded, black-haired and very soft-spoken man, “but I also hike, I travel, I climb mountains, and I even went bungee jumping on one of my last trips abroad.”
Buchman is one of the finest flutists in Israel today, and local and foreign composers love to compose musical works for him. On the eve of Independence Day, Buchman will be the soloist at the annual concert performed by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra at the Jerusalem Theater, where he will play a work written by the late Leonard Bernstein in 1981 entitled Halil. It was written in memory of Yadin Tanenbaum, a young flutist who was killed during the Yom Kippur War. Buchman, who performed with a group of musicians in the Sinai Desert for Israeli soldiers during that war, says he is already overwhelmed with emotions.
Buchman was born in Tel Aviv in 1952 to a flutist and a harpist, both musicians with the Israel Opera and the Israel Philharmonic. His father was his first flute teacher. It was the flute that led the young Buchman, after his army service, to Jerusalem. He was hired by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, first as a piccolo player and a year later as principal flutist, a position he holds to this day.
“My parents wanted me to be an engineer, but I loved music. When I met my wife, who is a physician, she gave me the support I needed to step in the direction that was truly mine – music.”
Chance Encounters for Flute and Jazz Trio, Buchman’s newly released CD, was inspired by an idea of Buchman’s. It is a suite with each of its six movements built on Bach’s work, in the tradition of the Swingle Singers, achieving, as Buchman explains, “an organic integration of original contemporary music with Bach’s music, while each section bears the particular style of famous Jazz performers.”
Chance Encounters is also the story of an encounter that could take place only in Israel. “It is between me, a Sabra, and Uri Brenner, a new immigrant from Russia,” he explains. But it is even more. Buchman, a secular Israeli, found that of all people, it was the new immigrant from Russia – who has become devoutly religious – who could truly understand his ideas and his dreams for this disc, with music serving as a kind of glue to bond them together.
Buchman has already released several albums, but besides the natural desire of a performer to record, he is devoted to bringing Israeli music to the attention of a wider audience. In recognition of his achievements in that domain, he was awarded the Prize for Excellence in Performing Israeli Music by the Arts and Culture Council of Israel and the Oedeon Partos Prize by the Minister of Culture.
Buchman speaks passionately but wistfully of his love for quality Israeli music and the need to ensure its place in Israeli culture. “There is not enough money or support for the art of music. Everywhere we see that only the most basic form of popular music gains attention, and almost nothing is done to encourage young people to access good music.
“I and my fellow musicians have to invest a lot of time and effort in a performance – contrary to the light music shows or popular song contests that flood the media – for very frustrating results, whether in the practical financial aspect or, no less crucial, the lack of attention in the media. The people who decide what will be played on Army Radio, for example, are not part of my musical and artistic world, so they don’t even have the means to understand or evaluate this music. As a result, it is very rarely aired. It’s not a matter of ego, the question at hand is what kind of next generation are we raising? People who ignore our most important cultural assets? 
“I know that whoever has heard these CDs has adored them, but you can’t hear it on the radio. Perhaps because my personal life is not in the gossip columns. I’m just a musician who loves his art and wants to share this love with other people.”
Nevertheless, Buchman says he is very lucky to see his dreams come true. “After my Song of the Flute CD, which sold quite well – another indication that people do love good music – I knew I wanted to use jazz in my next album.”
To that end, Buchman was introduced to Brenner. “I was looking for acomposer who was rooted in two worlds – classical and jazz music, andmy friend maestro Daniel Solomon suggested that I meet Brenner. He hadmade aliya from Russia, became observant and today is a haredi rabbi,married with five children and lives in Telz Stone. We met duringPessah two years ago, and I knew immediately that he was the artist Iwas looking for. He is a passionate jazz pianist and the residentcomposer of the Beersheba Symphony Orchestra. I told him right from thebeginning that I had to have Bolling and Piazzolla works on this disc,and the result is beyond my dreams. In fact, when I brought home themaster recording for the first time, I was shivering throughout mybody.”
The disc includes, besides Chance Encountersfor Flute and Jazz Trio, Astor Piazzolla’sHistoire du Tango for Flute and Guitar and ClaudeBolling’s Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano, arrangedfor flute and jazz trio.