I have been truly blessed over the years to work with hundreds of musicians, some of whom I collaborate with on a recurring basis. Scroll below or click on the links to read about a few of these extraordinary artists:
I met this super-human soprano at an amateur choir rehearsal when I was 20 years old. I was the choir accompanist, and she was the big Israeli Juilliard star brought in as the soloist. During the break I asked her if she knew “Bist du bei Mir”, a small Stölzel aria found in Bach’s notebook for Anna Magdalena, and the only classical piece for voice and piano I knew to play from memory at the time. We proceeded to play and sing, and I remember facing the wall playing an upright piano and crying as Hila sang this song so sweetly. In the end, she said: “You would make a good accompanist, because you really listen” and promised that if she ever needed an accompanist for a local gig she would give me a call. From then on… I went on to become (what else?) a vocal accompanist, and Hila went on to win a Grammy and become one of the most revered singers on the planet. I am lucky to have worked with Hila on many recitals, including a few of my degree recitals at USC and most recently, her esoteric cabaret at The Theater @Boston Court . She has been my inspiration, mentor and good friend… plus, she makes some REALLY mean tacos.
Aside from being the smartest person I know (I call her my ‘audible encyclopedia’), Ayana Haviv is the first person I turn to when it comes to collaborating on eclectic, one-of-a-kind projects. Our musical beginnings parallel each other: Ayana was a PhD candidate in Anthropology at UCLA while I was completing my degree in mathematics. We collaborated sporadically until once for fun, we put together a full-length recital at a private home. This experience led us both to Judy’s art-song masterclass at the university, and additional performance opportunities slowly began coming our way. As the end of the year approached, I applied for the music school at USC while Ayana chose to take a year leave-of-absence from her program to pursue musical training. Today she is a member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale as well as the LA Opera chorus and is one of the most sought-after singers in Los Angeles, singing everything from Vivaldi to video games. Nothing makes me happier than to be called for a seemingly unfamiliar gig only to find out Ayana is the hired soloist! Together we also continue to produce musical programs such as Yiddish, Ladino and Israeli music concerts.
*Favorite memory: getting yelled at in the middle of a concert at a retirement community for not performing enough “Fiddler” selections.
To listen to Ayana’s fantastic demo reel, go to: www.ayanahaviv.com
There once was a time when I only knew Eric Whitacre as Hila Plitmann’s husband. I knew he wrote music, but it wasn’t until after he gave me a copy of his CD Cloudburst at dinner one night that our musical friendship began. Nowadays I am honored to travel and perform with Eric throughout the world, often through his collaboration with Distinguished Concerts International in New York (DCINY).
In April 2009 I played for the premiere of “the city and the sea”, his latest song cycle commissioned by DCINY at the Stern/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall. A unique aspect of this piece is that Eric uses a single cluster chord to create the entire piano part for all five songs in the cycle. He explains: “I’m calling the piano part in these pieces the ‘oven-mitt’ technique, because most of the chords are white-key clusters played as if you are wearing mitts on your hands – the four fingers all bunched together and the thumb on its own.”
Eric unveiled his most recent project, the Virtual Choir on TED Talks. 20 minutes and two standing ovations later, the Virtual Choir has officially gone viral! To check out Eric’s TED Talk click here.
Many people are familiar with Eric’s music, talent and charming personality (and good looks…) What only few know is that Eric is quite possibly the best friend one could hope for.
David and I met playing Toru Takemitsu’s trio “Between Tides” with USC’s Contemporary Music Ensemble directed by Donald Crockett. David is the kind of musician who never just plays his ‘line’ or ‘part’ but rather, he interprets the piece as a whole and his harmonic intuition makes him a sublime string player, especially in chamber music repertoire.
The first time I accompanied him in his lesson with the late Eleanore Schoenfeld, she cheerfully and authoritatively exclaimed: “The two of you were born for each other!” and so we continued to play together throughout our time at the school. After graduating from USC David continued earning his Masters degree from the New England Conservatory. He is based nowadays in Miami, playing for the New World Symphony under Director Michael Tilson Thomas and touring Europe’s most celebrated music festivals during the summer months. I feel so very proud of the musician he has become and I know Eleanore would be as well.