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Jacqueline Vanasse

Itamar Zorman, a beautiful soul

June 12, 2013 at 3:32 PM

In person, Itamar Zorman seems so quiet and shy it would be impossible to guess that he is a top prizewinner of an international competition. Did, truth, honesty and sentiment prevail this time? On stage even before he plays a single note, the music comes alive. As a creator of atmospheres, nothing appears too prepared, too planned. He nurtures the moment, cultivating in the most beautiful way and making it bloom exquisitely. There is a stunning sincerity and freshness in his playing as well as something very noble and sovereign. He isn’t after the effect but dives into the music with true sensitivity controlled by the rigor of the interpretation. He is a beautiful soul.

Itamar Zorman

Itamar Zorman studied with Sylvia Rosenberg at the Juilliard School for 5 years. Although they come from very different Schools in terms of technique and music making, it was a perfect match. The young violinist admires her dedication, fire and energy. “She is the most passionate musician I have ever met” he says, “I owe her a lot”. “She is, however, a tough teacher”, he warns. Recalling some hard times she gave him with Mozart, he remembers her saying that he was simply “killing the composer”. But her rigour was part of the reason that decided him to go study with her. He felt he would really progress and the desire to improve is of central importance in the life of Itamar Zorman. At 27, the violinist is still taking lessons with Christian Tetzlaff at the Kronberg Academy. Eager to acquire knowledge, he believes that in the end the individuality of a player comes from the personal understanding and integration of the information he has accumulated.

More important to him than any concert opportunity or award is the actual act of playing violin, “for the love of it”, he says. However, for him, it is essential that someone feel something when he performs, that he communicates something. “Musicians should not be afraid to go with their heart, to really play with a lot of soul”, he encourages. He don't think that today we have less emotion than before, but that we have to remind ourselves that keeping the good taste and the "correct style" are just a means to bring alive the human message behind the music. Zorman advises not to fear originality: “each period or composer may have their specific rules, but even in those times people were having very different ideas and in the end, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, it’s all just music”. “Be passionate”, the violinist also urges, “and practice with the very passion that you would have if you were performing. Things change technically when you are on stage; you use a different amount of bow for example, and your muscles may tense differently”.

Contemporary music is an important issue for Itamar Zorman. The young violinist understands the people’s apprehension of it but thinks that for the continuation of classical music it’s crucial that new works be played: “this fear comes from the fact that you don’t really know what to expect from a modern piece”. Of course, it’s much more convenient if known pieces and composers are played. We know how to relate to them, how to listen, what to listen to, what to expect in terms of form. It’s easier. Still, when contemporary works are well played and the performer enjoys playing them, it has an undeniable effect on an audience. It is therefore the responsibility of the musician not only to play contemporary works, but also to play them well. “When you don’t play well a piece written by recognized composers, like Mozart for example, people will say the performer is bad and Mozart is a genius but when you don’t play well a piece of a contemporary composer they will say the music is just bad and people don’t know how to write”, explains Zorman. There is obviously a big misconception; there are people who don’t even realize that classical music is still being written. People need to be taught, they need to understand the language of music. As a performer, one needs to explain, tell the audience how to listen to it and give demonstrations to initiate interest. If classical music is to survive, people need to have some music education and musicians need to play it a lot. In a way, contemporary music is even easier to introduce to those who don’t know classical music at all because it talks about things that have to do directly with our times and one can relate to those. The Israeli artist believes that great contemporary music has been written. The only thing is that history hasn’t done its sorting out yet so we don’t know which pieces are just good and which are great.

The young advocate of contemporary music is also a great enthusiastic of chamber music. It is one of the reasons why he loves playing music. “It’s a much nicer feeling to have others who support you on stage, you are not alone, you can have a real conversation in music”, enlightens Zorman. And because chamber music is all about sharing and communicating, and “to do one good thing at a time”, as he says, together with other young Israeli musicians he created the Israeli Chamber Project a few years ago. The ensemble’s mission is to bring live music to places where people usually don’t have access to it. In addition to his involvement to the Israel Chamber Project, Zorman has a several upscale debuts in New York City next year with his Lysander Piano Trio, which includes appearances at Concert Artists Guild series, Merkin Hall and The New School concert series to name a few.

For the future, Itamar Zorman would love to remain involved with contemporary music and would like to play a more unusual repertoire, a repertoire that he doesn’t think gets as much attention as it deserves. Aware of the difficulty of having a career as a violinist and especially as a soloist, he enjoys what he already has and hopes to keep progressing everyday: “I have not lost faith for myself and I am still working on things”, he candidly adds.

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BELOW: Itamar Zorman plays Wieniawski: "Thème original varié" op.15:

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