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Music Makers prepare for cross country tour
By MAXIM REIDER
12/22/2018
World-class chamber musicians to build bridges with audience in four-program festival.
The inaugural Music Makers Israel festival will destroy the barrier that separates the audience from the musicians, or at least lower it, the event’s artistic director says.

The international chamber music festival taking place December 30-January 3 in Kibbutz Eilon, Zichron Ya’acov and Tel Aviv will feature leading musicians such as pianist Alessio Bax, violinist Gluzman, viola player Tabea Zimmermann, cellist Johannes Moser, double bass player Niek De Groot and pianist Angela Yoffe performing gems of chamber repertoire by Schubert, Shostakovich, Stravinsky and more.

But what makes the event different from many others is the way in which it will engage the audience.

“It means that all our rehearsals are open to public. Then, at the end of every concert, instead of numerous curtain calls, we just sit on the stage and talk with the audience,” says world-renowned violinist Vadim Gluzman, the festival’s artistic director, in a phone interview from his Chicago home. “I believe that this human communication is most important for the both sides – the audience feels that they are not just coming to listen to beautiful music produced by some abstract artists, but really participates in the music event. While for us musicians it serves as an additional source of inspiration.”

Music Makers is an organization that has been representing Gluzman’s chamber music festival in Chicago for nine years now. Born in Riga, Latvia, and brought to Israel in his teens, Gluzman continued his studies in the US, graduating from New York’s Juilliard School. He is now counted among the world’s leading violinists of his generation, but he has never lost his connection with Israel. Every summer he comes to teach the Keshet Eilon International Mastercourse of which he was among the first alumni, as well as performing with Israeli ensembles.

“We see our Chicago festival as a reunion of friends. And since most of our friends are top-caliber musicians, bringing them together was not really a challenge.”

Deciding to bring Music Makers to Israel, Gluzman approached Keshet Eilon (“which for me and [my pianist wife] Angela [Yoffe] is our artistic home”) and the classical music periodical Opus Magazine.

“I am most grateful to both of them for their readiness to support this project,” he says. “Over the last 10 years it came out that Angela, to ours and her own surprise, in addition to her music talent, is also blessed with that of a manager – so she serves as the festival producer. And I see that her eyes are shining, just like on the eve of our Chicago festivals.”

Presenting the festival participants, he says that the event is bringing world stars to Israel who all play famous instruments, including Gluzman himself, who plays the “ex-Leopold Auer” Stradivari.

“Seeing them on stage together is a rare experience,” he says. “Violist Tabea Zimmermann [the widow of Israeli conductor David Shallon] needs no introduction in Israel. Cellist Johannes Moser appears with the best orchestras. He is my long time music partner. Together, we have world-premiered several pieces of contemporary composers as well as played as members of a trio.”

Gluzman refers to Italian Alessio Bax as an outstanding pianist, and friend of his for 25 years.

“He was just 16 when I heard him first, playing Rachmaninoff at a students concert. It was as if the skies opened and something incredible transpired on the stage.”

Niek De Groot, Gluzman says, “well, I’ve never heard anything like that, the double bass that can simultaneously imitate a big drum and sing like a cello. In a review on our concert a music critic described his double bass as ‘seismic.’”

The festival opens December 30 at Bar Uryan Concert Hall in Kibbutz Eilon with the “Onstage/Offstage” program.

“The musicians will perform whatever they want. It may be either something serious and profound or funny and absurd, and then speak with the audience, telling what the musician’s life is about, while the audience is most welcome to ask questions – any questions,” says Gluzman. “The idea is to build bridges with the audience, and from our Chicago experience we know how important this is.”

VIP packages are available, which let the festival guests rent an apartment at the new Keshet Eilon campus to attend rehearsals and concerts, and then after the December 31 concert join the musicians in the New Year celebrations at the kibbutz music center’s beautiful cafeteria, overlooking the serene Western Galilee hills.

From Eilon, the musicians continue to Zichron Ya’acov to perform “a slightly different program” at Elma Concert Hall on January 2 and then close the festival at the Assia Auditorium of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on January 3.

For details and reservations, visit musicmakersisrael.org.il
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