Sharon Cohen

First Violin

At the age of only 31, Sharon Cohen has already notched up thousands of kilometers across continents. She is a pro-active violinist and likes to be involved and try new things. Even though her initial response to the question, “why did you decide to make the Philharmonic your permanent home”, was … “don’t pressure,” she is a violinist who may well become one of the future managers of the orchestra.


Sharon is someone who has known what she wanted from childhood. At the young age of 3, Sharon already knew what she wanted to do when she grew up. Despite the difficulties she encountered playing the violin, something led her, like the endless stroke of a bow, to play, to persist and to tread new ground each time. “This is what I always wanted to do. I was always a violinist who found it hard to play the violin but I love it. I was never a musician who took up the violin and immediately won competitions and played solos. I always found it hard.”


Why did you choose the violin specifically?

“I really love the fact that the violin has infinite duration sound. The sound of a violin does not end when there is no more breath. And this is the case with every string instrument. In Italian, this is called sostenuto. You can make the sound seem endless, like something unnatural.”


What do you like to do when you are not playing?

Sharon’s hobbies center on her many friends, ceramics, yoga and cooking. Her hobbies allow her to “relax” in domains where she does not feel the pressure to excel or be perfect, as in the world of music which takes up most of her day.


What do you remember about your audition here?

Sharon practiced for 4 months for the audition. “I was very strict with myself and, for the first time in my life, I dared to listen to recordings of myself, criticize myself and play with the recording.” She planned to come to the audition and play as best she could. Her heart was made up – if the way she played pleased the examiners, she would be ready to play like that for the rest of her life, and if it didn’t please them – she would not want to play any differently. “I tried to be as Sharon-like as possible and I think I succeeded… I cannot try to play better than someone else. There is no such thing in art. You cannot try to make better art than someone else.”


What ambitions do you have as a member of the IPO?

“I would like to meet some of the people who fund me. From my experience abroad, I saw that a close connection between donors and musicians helps them to feel more connected to the orchestra. Here, such a connection is less common among the members of the orchestra and the management is more in contact with the donors. I try to forge my own way.”


Who were your sources of inspiration?

Sharon mentions, with sorrow, two figures who were highly significant in her career as a musician and who passed away at a relatively young age. Valeria Blutner, who taught her the Givatayim Conservatory of Music and Ora Shiran who taught her during her BA studies in Jerusalem. She also mentions Lucy Shiffman who was her teacher during her MA studies in Boston, and continues to teach her and to remain her friend and mentor till today.


“The two people whom I feel taught me everything about music are Daniel Barenboim and Avi Abramovitch. Avi taught me what it means to play together, when you give 100% of yourself in the context of what is happening around you and what you are absorbing from those playing around you.”


Do you recall an exciting moment with the orchestra?

Hearing the orchestra play Mahler’s 5th symphony was a high point for Sharon and the reason why she wanted to play with the orchestra. “My grandfather and grandmother used to take me to concerts of the Philharmonic in order to hear soloists but also because my grandfather loved these big symphonies. This was the sound I grew up with and I am very moved to be a part of it now.”