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15 Questions to Arnon Zlotnik

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Hi! How are you? Where are you?
I’m fine, thank you. I’m in The Hague right now.

What’s on your schedule right now?
This afternoon I had a concert with my Baroque Ensemble gaudiCantus in The Hague, and in 2 day we perform in Cologne, and then in Augsburg.

If you hadn’t chosen for music, what do you think you would do right now?

I would probably open my own business in something.... :)

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?
I cannot think of 1 person...but the choreographer Ohad Naharin (Batsheva Dance Company) was one, James Bowman (Countertenor) was another, and there are a few others to name...

What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?

I would say that the hardest part is that you never know if you’ll earn you living tomorrow, and also the travelling. The best thing for me is to work with different people in different projects. It keeps changing all the time, which I like. Meeting new people each time and each project is different from the other, which makes life interesting...

What’s your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
Unfortunately, I think that the scene is too much concentrated on the main stream. I think the world’s developing technology demands artist to be good in a few areas, rather than “just” to sing/play good. Multimedia has taken over to the “next generation”. There is a crisis, since people tend to stay at home in front of their computers/DVD player etc., rather than to go out for a music performance, especially if the performance doesn’t “belong” to the main stream. And there a crisis in the art world anyway nowadays: there are less and less budgets for the arts.

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it’s all been done before. What do you tell them?

I think it’s all a matter of taste: some people might think that “it’s all been done before”, but many others discover new things when they hear a new recording of classical’s all a matter of taste and approach. And those who think “it’s all been done before” don’t have to buy the new CDs if they don’t want to...:)

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?

As an ex-dancer, it took me some time to get used to go to classical music concerts: many are visually boring. The musicians might be excellent, but I think that a performance is not only about sound and music. The minute we sit, as an audience, and WATCH the musicians on stage, the VISUAL element is there and mustn’t be boring.
As a stage performer, I find it much more interesting to perform on stage (visual+audio), rather than listening to a good CD. Visuality is a big part of a performance on stage. The audience of today want something to “happen” on stage- and not merely listening to good mucic...

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?
The performers way to approach the music/lyrics/play/movement etc. Each one of us performers, have a different experience of life, which makes each one of us an individual. Each person sees things differently from the other, a different perspective, a different taste or point of view. Those differences influence each one of us, the way we refer to the same piece of art. People are different from one another and have different tastes.

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.

Yes. If it’s not personal, where’s the artist and where’s his/her taste? What would make him different than any other artist?

True or false: “Music is my first love”.
No. I was in love with dancing before I approached music.

True or false: People need to be educated about classical music, before they can really appreciate it.

Not necessarily. I think education is definitely helps to appreciate classical music, but I don’t think it’s the KEY to appreciate classical music. BEING MOVED and TOUCHED by music makes all the difference.

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?

Wow...that’s a tough choice...I guess I will try to combine a good balance between classical music, contemporary music, main-stream and also fringe, “good old fashion” as well as new experimental things. Hard to tell...But I would put more emphasis on special performances, rather than main stream.

What’s your favourite classical CD at the moment?
No one in specific. I hardly listen to classical music.

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?

Sure: I studied piano, recorder, all of them I was ok, but singing was much more natural for me to approach.

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