Singing at the Buckingham Palace

Performing with Royal Philharmonic

Performing with Royal Philharmonic

Israeli baritone singer Colin Schachat, who together with the Jerusalem Symphony, Tel Aviv Philharmonic Choir and other soloists participates in the performance of Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah, successfully pursues two careers, which sound worlds apart, those of an artist and of a businessman.

“Music and singing has always been my major love,” says Colin Schachat, who was born in South Africa and immigrated in Israel in 1992, “but my father was very keen to get an education outside music first, and then to pursue any career I want. I have built a career in law and then in business, but I somehow managed to keep up my musical career. I never thought I would perform with such orchestras as Israel Philharmonic, among others.”

He admits that it is far from easy to combine these two careers. “You have one voice for everything and you need to protect it. On my trips, I try never to combine a concert with any business activity because I need to focus my mind on one thing. Your voice is a reflection of what you are internally. So if you are in a situation of tension or anxiety resulting from business activity, you will not sing well.” He also believes that a successful career is built by the choice of what not to sing, and not by what to sing. “I refuse to sings things which are not suitable to my voice, to its range and timbre. Well, I can afford it since this is not my full time career, but it is still tempting.”

Schachat’s repertoire includes both classical music and Jewish liturgy. “Elijah is a wonderfull piece, its baritone part sits well on my voice and is quite a challenge. A huge corpus of works is written on the Old Testament. I have not learned Christian pieces yet (like Mozart’s Requiem, for example), but although I am an observant Jew, I have no objections of performing it, on the contrary, I see it as a privilege to sing this music.”

Next to Prince Andrew after Concert at Buckingham Palace in Oct 2006

Next to Prince Andrew after Concert at Buckingham Palace in Oct 2006

Music has taken Schachat to many places, from Tel Aviv to Johannesburg, also making him the first and the only Israeli to perform in such a prestigious venue, as the Buckingham Palace, where he appeared in a special concert with the Royal Philharmonic a year and a half ago.

“This special banquet concert had a double purpose. The Royal Philharmonic celebrated its 60th anniversary and the patron of the orchestra, who is the Duke of York Prince Andrew, invited them at a dinner. In addition, the orchestra used this concert as an opportunity to raise funds for their community projects.”

Schachat describes the event as memorable in any respect: “In the Palace the soloists received incredible suites of visiting dignitaries as dressing rooms. Also, when you are a guest in the Buckingham Palace, you are assigned for an escort who stays with you all the time: they are very nervous for security reasons and for the protocol.”

The event took place in a famous hall, which is used for major banquets in the Buckingham Palace, like that in honor of the President of America. “The splendor of the venue is incredible and the amount of the waiters is unbelievable,” recollects Schachat, who sat at the dinner two sits from Prince Andrew. “He was very easy to speak at and very relaxed.” Schachat was asked in advance if there were any preferences and received kosher food.

Schachat, who like most South African Jews is a descendant of Lithuanian Jewish community, is involved in a project to try and create a monument of a vibrant Jewish life in that country till the WWII. “One of my concerts in Lithuania was aimed to promote this very noble role.”

Elijah, by Mendelssohn, will be performed by the Jerusalem Symphony under Eli Yaffe with the Tel Aviv Philharmonic Choir and soloists April 24 in Jerusalem Henry Crown Hall at 20:00.

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