27-year-old Gilad Hochman was born in Herzliya. Today he spends most of his time in Berlin, Germany. I interviewed Gilad in September 2009.
PH: Gilad, would you like to talk about your early music education?
GH: My parents are not professional musicians, neither, for that matter, are they amateurs. My mother was born in Paris and my father, in Odessa. My father studied the piano when he was young as part of his general education and encouraged me to start at age six. So I began learning the piano. At age nine, I felt I could write better works than those I was learning to play and began writing small works for piano. I have been composing ever since. At 14, I enrolled in the Herzliya Conservatory, studying composition with Ilya Heifetz. I completed my studies there with distinction and went on to Tel Aviv University, taking composition with Gil Shochat and conducting with Vag Papian. I graduated with honors.
PH: What was your work schedule on completion of your studies?
GH: At age 22, I was appointed composer in residence of the Ra’anana Symphonette. I was already receiving a lot of commissions –among them being for the Tel Aviv Soloists’ Ensemble, from Musica Nova, Naked Voices, Ensemble Meitar. Most importantly for me, I was working with a lot of young soloists in their 20’s – ‘cellist Shira Mani, violinist Moshe Aharonov, flautist Kiril Aginsky and pianist Yael Manor, to mention but a few. I find young players good to work with: they go into works in depth, they are curious, they have time and they listen intently to what they are playing. However, experienced musicians are a pleasure to work with, especially when it comes to the matter of interpretation in my music.
In 2007 I won the Prime Minister’s Prize for composition, being the youngest composer to receive this award. This prompted me to look for new challenges further afield.
PH: So in 2007, you moved to Germany. That was a weighty decision.
GH: Yes. Actually, I had applied to study to start a PhD in the USA and, despite a most generous offer on their part, decided to go to Germany. In 2007, I moved to Berlin, not knowing a single person there and not being a member of any institution. I am in the process of finding my way in this new environment and I am aware and ambivalent of the various sides of this country. I find the quality of life high in Berlin. In Germany, I find much emphasis on the fact that art, and music in particular, is a phenomenon created by human beings, and people are proud of that. However, living in an environment means relating to its past and its future. I can not stand in judgement of Germany, nor can I ignore its past. This makes for an interesting situation, one not without conflicts. I am not indifferent to what Germany is, neither am I waiting for life to “happen”. I can only add that today Germany is interested in tolerance and dialogue because of its past.
PH: What projects do you have in Germany?
GH: There are many exciting projects in the offing. I recently received a commission to compose a work for the Frankfurt Opera Children’s Choir.
Ensemble Modern, based in Frankfurt, has commissioned a work for solo French horn. It will be recorded on disc on Ensemble Modern’s own label. The French horn player is Sahar Berger, an Israeli living in Germany. This is a great honour for me as this is one of the world’s best ensembles of this kind
Then there is a full-length concert of earlier chamber works of mine as well as a song cycle commissioned for the program. We will be taking it on tour in West Germany. So, I am happy with the way things are shaping up.
And, of course, I continue to have commissions and performances of my works in Israel. This is extremely important to me.
PH: What else is important in your life?
GH: For many years, I was involved in karate and was the Israeli champion twice. I have read far-eastern philosophy, Jewish philosophy and European philosophy. I am discovering that there is much in the field of “knowledge” we are not able to understand and am trying to examine the place of the human being in this world.
It is important for me to live in an environment where I can develop as a person and a musician. I place great importance on personal development and self-awareness. As a musician, it is imperative to work with good artists, to create new works and take on interesting projects. That is my own modest contribution in this world.
On September 20th 2009, my own site will be up and running: http://www.giladhochman.com .There will be much music on it and it will offer anyone who wishes the possibility of downloading my scores free of charge. I have learned the importance of not holding onto them exclusively for myself. They will be free for the use of those who wish to express themselves through my music.
PH: Gilad, I wish you much joy and continued success in your career.
GH: Thank you. It was a pleasure talking to you.