On an unusually warm day in September, I am sitting down with Israel-born composer, Avner Dorman, at New York’s Bryant Park “Pain Quotidien” café. Before long, I am privy to a sneak preview of his freshly finished score for his latest composition, “Azerbaijani Dance”.
Based on a piano piece of the same name, Dorman’s latest composition will have its world premiere this October, with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta in Tel Aviv. This event will also ignite a season celebrating the legendary Maestro’s upcoming 50thAnniversary of his conducting debut.
Dorman tells me about his father, Zeev, a long-time bassoonist with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.
”At first, my father was concerned about me wanting to follow in his path as a professional musician. And then later, it also became somewhat of a peculiar situation that my father had a post with the Philharmonic Orchestra, and I was a composer. I had to prove my independence. Thankfully, it was only after the time I graduated from the music academy, that my father went on to become the head of the school. If this would have happened during my student years, it would have been really awkward”.
Avner’s father had also been conducting the Israeli Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, a talent forge for future IPO musicians which had been merged in 2005 with the Academy, establishing the new Buchmann-Mehta School of Music at the Tel Aviv University.
He also tells me about his grandmother, who had left Berlin/Germany on the last youth train, saving her from deportation to a concentration camp. His grandfather had left his native Leipzig, in the early days of the Zionist movement.
Growing up with his parents in Ramat HaSharon just outside of Tel Aviv, young Avner was influenced by the many different cultures around him.
“There is also some Ukrainian and Jewish Sephardic cultural heritage in my family’s background”, he says. “I think, I did get some of my darker looks from that”. And then we both marvel about the widely dispersed Jewish people and their ability to absorb all different kinds of cultures.
One of the most exciting aspects of this ability to blend into different cultural environments is the creative manifestation of this process. In Dorman’s case, the diversity he grew up with reaches right into his musical oeuvre where influences from different composers and genres – from Bach to Bartok and from jazz to Middle Eastern works – reverberate. The 2006 three-piano sonatas recording by Naxos, featuring pianist Eliran Avni, already entail the wide stylistic range, yet his highly original and individual concept. Read the rest of this entry »