Monday, September 7, 2009

Roy Amotz - flautist

On Friday August 21st 2009, I met with Jerusalem-born flautist Roy Amotz. The 27-year-old musician is back in Israel after a number of years spent studying and performing in Germany.

PH: Roy, when did your begin your musical training?

RA: Like so many children, I began learning the recorder at the age of eight. At age 13, I changed to the flute, studying with Vladimir Silva of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra for four years. I proceeded to study with Moshe Epstein and Yossi Arnheim. I had won the America-Israel Cultural Foundation scholarship four times and went on to serve in the army as an “outstanding musician”. During my compulsory army service, it became clear to me that what I wanted was to study overseas and make a performing career.

PH: On completing your army service what was your next move?

RA: The very day I was released from the army, I traveled to Madrid with the Israel Young Philharmonic Orchestra and, from there, to Stuttgart where I was enrolled to study at the Stuttgart Academy of Music and Arts with French flautist Jean-Claude Gerard. Two years later, I moved to the University of the Arts in Berlin, Studying flute with Roswitha Staege.

PH: Aside from studies, were you performing at the time?

RA: Yes. While finishing my degree in Berlin, I began playing with the Radio Orchestra of Southwest Germany, Freiburg Baden-Baden. This orchestra specializes in the performance of contemporary music, appearing in festivals such as the Darmstadt- and Donau-Eschingen Festivals, both of these festivals being known for the premiering of contemporary works. At that time, I also joined Ensemble Meitar –a group aiming at giving high quality performances of modern Israeli classical works. For me, being only an orchestral player doesn’t give me complete artistic satisfaction. I find combining it with the performance of chamber- and solo music much more fulfilling. Symphonic repertoire is magnificent but the orchestral player doing only that might risk becoming a small cog in a big machine, making music without being personally involved.

However, since July 2005, I have been a member of the Verbier Festival Orchestra of Switzerland, an orchestra composed of young musicians from all over the world. In winter, Verbier is a ski resort; in summer, it hosts this festival, one of the world’s finest festivals. Today I play in the Chamber Orchestra of the Verbier Festival, an orchestra that performs during the year in other locations. This is very inspiring as all its members are young and committed and the work provides a change from daily routine.

PH: So after spending five and a half years in Germany, you returned to Israel in the summer of 2009. What plans do you have?

RA: My plans are many and varied. I have always held onto my professional ties in Israel, both as a soloist and as a chamber musician. I continue to play with Ensemble Meitar – six players and two singers –where I am personally involved in performance repertoire and organization. We perform works by young composers. Many young people are among the audiences that come to hear our annual concert series at the Stricker Conservatory in Tel Aviv and at the Teiva Hall in Jaffa. Ensemble Meitar is the first of its kind and I see being part of this pioneering project as a “calling”. It is exciting to take part in the premiering of a new work as well as working together with composers on their own pieces, observing the development of the piece through the work process.

For the last two years, I have been a guest player with the Israel Contemporary Players, under the baton of Zsolt Nagy, an ensemble giving highest quality performance of modern music in interesting programs. In February of 2009, we performed Fausto Romitelli’s (1963-2004) opera “An Index of Metals”, in which the composer makes use of video film and electronic music. “An Index of Metals” (2003) is Romitelli’s final work, a synthesis of his style and high point of his oeuvre.

I also enjoy playing with the Israel Revolution Orchestra, a Jerusalem-based orchestra of young musicians seeking new combinations of music with other arts. Our most recent project is a performance of music of young Israeli composers together with animated films created by graduates of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design.

PH: You are very involved in the performance of contemporary music. What problems does it present?

RA: There are many problems. Deciding which contemporary works constitute good music or not is no easy task. You sometimes only form an opinion about a work after three performances of it. It is imperative that the listening public come to these concerts with an open mind and be willing to trust its own judgement. Listening to music demands a lot of concentration and, with the speed of stimulus changing so rapidly nowadays, young people are too impatient to sit and concentrate for an hour. I believe classical music is as relevant today as ever. Perhaps it is time to change the concert format in accordance with the spirit of our times. Lecture-concerts create interest but what about eliminating the barriers between classical and popular music in the concert hall? That might attract a younger concert-going audience. Programming needs to be more daring!

PH: What other plans do you have?

RA: In addition to working with the above-mentioned ensembles, I will be taking part in projects of the Israeli Opera Orchestra, at the same time completing my masters degree at the Jerusalem Academy of Music, studying flute with Maestro Avner Biron.

And then there is the Jerusalem Harp Trio – Sivan Magen-harp, Maya Rasooly-viola and myself – all Jerusalem-born artists. We are interested to explore repertoire for this combination and to commission new works for performance.

PH: How do you see your role as a musician?

RA: A good musician provides a connection to something greater than himself. I want to play music I believe in and to provide audiences with a meaningful listening experience. People should be more aware of how much joy music can give them and that they really need music in their lives for their own well-being.

PH: Roy, welcome back to Israel. We wish you much joy and success in all your various projects and musical activities.

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