Taub takes a bow

The Keshet Eilon Music Center’s summer master-course opens next week

 HAIM TAUB and students (photo credit: SARIT UZIELI)
HAIM TAUB and students
(photo credit: SARIT UZIELI)
If you are a young classical music player, particularly if the violin is your instrument of choice, Keshet Eilon is probably the place to be around this time of the year.
The Keshet Eilon Music Center was established in 1990 with the expressed intent of nurturing budding talent. That was at a time when the mass immigration of Soviet Jewry was picking up pace, and the idea was to primarily help newly arrived musically gifted youngsters fit into the local scene and, subsequently, the global arena.
The first edition of the program hosted 25 players. Now, almost three decades on, the summer mastercourse caters for some 60 young musicians, aged 16-28, from all over the world. Between July 23 and August 8, the music center will host participants from all points of the compass, including China, the Ukraine, South Korea, Slovenia, Germany, Cuba, New Zealand, Azerbaijan, Taiwan, the USA, France, Japan, the UK and Russia. There is just one exceptional exception to the age bracket, 11-year-old British-born violinist Leia Zhu whose family hails from China.
The richly bounteous two-week agenda takes in several concerts, including the opening gala slot, on July 24, a tribute to 20th century Jewish Polish-Mexican violinist Henryk Szeryng. Szeryng’s widow will come to Israel especially to attend the concert, and will enlighten the audience about her late husband’s career and life. The curtain will come down on the program, with a concert at the Performing Arts Center in Tel Aviv, on August 8, before which there will be a host of workshops and master classes for soloists and various ensemble scales, and other concerts.
Over the course of the fortnight-plus event, the young violinists will benefit from the wisdom and experience of a slew of internationally acclaimed musicians and teachers, including the likes of Israeli violinists Sergey Ostrovsky and Guy Braunstein, French violinist Gilles Apap, cellist Hillel Zori, and pianists Ariel Halevy and Soviet-born Evgenia Lakernik. All told, there will be 26 seasoned onstage practitioners and educators on hand to enrich the participants’ musicianship, including the doyen of the local classical music fraternity Haim Taub.
At the age of 93, Taub brings a wealth of experience, not to mention anecdotal additions, to offer his young charges. Over the last four decades or so, Taub has nurtured the incipient musical pathways of scores of our top fiddlers, including fellow Keshet Eilon educator Guy Braunstein.  Not that the hordes of Taub’s disciples over the year would guess, but the former first violinist of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) needed a little nudging in the right direction before consenting to share his expertise with the less learned. “Moshe Weinstein, the violin builder, told me I should become a teacher,” Taub explains. “To begin with, I had no interest, but, back then, there was a shortage of classical music teachers in the country, and he eventually convinced me.”
Taub says has absolutely no regrets about his move to the instructional side of the music business. “I enjoy teaching, and I enjoy seeing the fruits of my labors, with all the gifted violinists I have taught, who perform all over the world. I am very happy with the way they play.”
As far as the long-serving teacher is concerned the technical aspects have to be in place. “The musicians have to make their instruments sound right, have a good tone and play correctly.”
Mind you, Taub isn’t always elated with what he sees and hears on concert stages. He feels things have changed over the years. “Musicians don’t always make enough effort,” he observes. “It is more about the show today. I have seen conductors and violinists and other players come here, and not perform well. It’s not the way it used to be. Today, a lot of musicians are one day in Stockholm, the next in Tokyo and the day after that in London.  It’s all about the money.”
Taub started out on his own musical path over 90 years ago. “When I was two and a half years old I started playing the harmonica,” he recalls. Any plans the infant may have had for following in the footsteps of, say, Larry Adler, were abruptly curtailed by a serious childhood ailment, which landed Taub in hospital for two and a half years. Back on his feet, the youngster eventually set bow to violin strings, for the first time, at the age of nine. 
He made rapid progress, under various teachers, including IPO violist and composer Eden Fartosh. “He was a great influence on me,” notes Taub. “He didn’t have fabulous technique, but he was a great instrumentalist. I was very lucky with the teachers I had. They were all so musical.”
At the age of 20, Taub moved Stateside, to study at Juilliard School in New York. He followed that up with some on-the-job training with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. But he left his heart here and, as soon as he heard the first violinist post with the IPO had become available he immediately applied and, thankfully, landed the job. And he has been back here ever since.
His long career to date includes a 20 year stint with the IPO, and plenty of sterling work with the Tel Aviv Quartet, which Taub founded in 1960.
While Taub says he learned how to be an orchestra player with the Pittsburgh ensemble, and confesses to a preference for chamber groups, he says it is all basically the same thing. “A full orchestra is also a chamber ensemble. The thing is, you always have to listen. In an orchestra you have to listen to the different sections, and with a chamber group you all listen to each other. You have to work together.”
Taub will, no doubt, be instilling that message in his young disciples over the next week or two and, hopefully, for years to come.
For more information about Keshet Eilon: (04) 9858117 and http://www.eilon.org.il