On February 8, musicians from the IPO and Tel Aviv University will showcase their institutions’ historic partnership.
It is shaping up to be a landmark year for Tamir Chuzhoy, a Tel Aviv University student from the remote Israeli town of Netivot. Recently, the TAU Buchmann-Mehta School of Music bassist was accepted into the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Now he is one of eight musicians hand-selected by Maestro Zubin Mehta to perform on February 8 at an exclusive black tie event in Miami.
“Eight on Feb 8,” at the Bal Harbour home of Leslie and Harry Benitah, will allow patrons of the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic and the American Friends of Tel Aviv University to become acquainted with each other and their institutions’ long shared history.
Chuzhoy’s rise to the professional ranks, a path others in the octet have followed or will follow, was envisioned back in 1945 when members of the Israel Philharmonic founded the Israel Academy of Music in Tel Aviv. In 2005, with transformative endowments from Frankfurt-based Developer Josef Buchmann and the artistic oversight of Maestro Mehta, the Academy became TAU’s Buchmann-Mehta School of Music.
According to Tomer Lev, Head of the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, many of the same musicians who had been saved by Bronislaw Huberman in the mid-1930s were determined to save their musical traditions by training future generations of orchestral performers and conductors.
“The roots and the synergic ties between the school and orchestra go back over 70 years,” Lev said.
A WARM, WELCOMING EVENT
AFIPO CEO Naomi Grabel and AFTAU President and CEO Gail Reiss, agreeing it is a history worth celebrating, organized this first-ever collaboration.
“The event is a wonderful way for the two organizations to partner, and to introduce new audiences to the highest quality of music from Israel,” said Reiss. The hosts, she added, are originally from France, where “their family is the pillar of the French community’s support for the university.” The Benitahs are a young couple, in real estate, and Leslie is an AFTAU board member.
The evening will feature a performance of Franz Schubert’s “Octet for clarinet, horn, bassoon & strings in F major,” D. 803. In addition to Chuzhoy, the musicians with ties to Buchmann-Mehta are violinist Dumitru Pocitari, a Buchmann-Mehta graduate who joined the IPO several years ago and recently became Associate Concert Master; violinist Lilia Pocitari, a current student; and clarinetist Jonathan Hadas, an IPO member since 2010 who earned his Bachelor of Music at Buchmann-Mehta. Three more IPO members, some of whom have taught or studied at the school, are cellist Linor Katz, principal bassoonist Daniel Mazaki, and violist Matan Noussimovitch.
Representing the school’s administration is the eighth member, Michael Slatkin, the octet’s horn player and the head of the school’s Woodwind Department.
ENSURING FUTURE EXCELLENCE
The school’s mission is to train outstanding young musicians and to prepare them for professional careers, as well as to create a future generation for the IPO.
According to Lev, before Buchmann-Mehta opened, “an estimated one third of the Israel Philharmonic had studied at our school. Since then, 20 more have won auditions and joined the orchestra.”
Maestro Mehta, Buchmann-Mehta’s Honorary President, leads at least one orchestral project each year, which includes rehearsing and then conducting the students at the School’s Gala concert in the Charles Bronfman Auditorium. He personally asks the world-famous soloists who perform with the IPO to dedicate one day to visit the school and work with the young musicians.
“If we wanted to hire these people to come and teach,” said Lev, “we would have to wait years and pay a lot of money. But because Maestro Mehta asks this as a personal favor, these master classes and workshops for our students are free. Also, he has taken the student orchestra to Europe, to South America, and in 2008 to the United Nations to perform before the General Assembly.”
The 90 student musicians who traveled to New York a decade ago performed before 1,800 international diplomats in a concert marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The young orchestra included grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. The Polish-born Buchmann, himself a survivor of Auschwitz, sponsored the entire concert.
At the Benitah home on February 8, after guests learn the origin of their organizations’ long partnership, current students Chuzhoy and Lilia Pocitari will share their story, and show how the original vision of those refugee musicians continues to shape Israel’s culture.