A special concert will take place on July 20 at the Einav Center in Tel Aviv. Three friends, artistic personalities, will join forces to perform a program with joie de vivre written all over it: soprano Hila Plitmann, an Israeli vocalist who has made it big abroad (she won a Grammy in 2009 for Best Classical Vocal Performance, for starters); successful composer Sharon Farber; and pianist Hagai Yodan who, in addition to his professional dexterity, knows how to turn every concert into something more than just a performance because he and his guests (mostly singers) are there to share. The concert will include a chamber ensemble.
The Jerusalem-born Juilliard School graduate Plitmann, who lives in Los Angeles with her composer husband Eric Whitacre and their son, is known mainly for performing contemporary music.
“There’s nothing wrong with the traditional operatic repertoire,” says Plitmann on the eve of her performance in Tel Aviv. “After all, there is just good and not-so-good music; it doesn’t matter when it was composed. But I think that artists of my generation and sure that those who follow us have been influenced by all this mixture of styles – be it rock, pop and yes, classics. At some point I realized that purely classical pieces didn’t speak to me, and I think that a reasonable part of the audience feels the same. In my early days at the music academy, I studied not only the art of singing but also piano in a very fundamental way, which prepared me to perform contemporary music. When contemporary music is good, if a composer knows how to put his music and the words together, the music is full of meaning and drama. This was all so new for me, and I thought I could share something special with the audience.“
Plitmann’s first success came when she was still a student at Juilliard.
“Composer David Del Tredici was my teacher, and he worked with me a lot. His music spoke to me! How can I describe it? It’s like Strauss on drugs – it is hyper-Romantic with a lot of drama. He was a Pulitzer Prize winner; but despite that, he was still a great composer. So the New York Philharmonic commissioned a piece from him. He wanted me to perform it, but they didn’t want me at all because my name was not familiar to them. Another singer, an excellent one, was cast for the role. But two weeks before the premiere she canceled, and I was offered to replace her. I said, ‘Sure, I can do it.’ Kurt Mazur conducted, and it was such bliss!”
She adds, “People think that career goes in a straight line upward, but nothing is straight in our life. There were years when it was nothing and years when it was hard, and it will probably be like this in years to come.”
In February 2009, Plitmann won a Grammy for Best Classical Vocal Performance for her recording of John Corigliano’s Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan.
“Corigliano took songs by Bob Dylan and composed his own music to his words. Both his piece and my performance were awarded with Grammys. So this recording won two Grammys. But again, a Grammy is just a prize. Granted, it is nice that your work is appreciated and I was very happy. But it is work that counts and not a prize. It’s like music contests: All the participants are excellent; there’s no such thing as ‘the best performer,’” she says.
Speaking about the upcoming concert, Plitmann says, “It will be something lovely, not larger than life. I worked with Hagai about a year ago in his Sopranos Concert Series, which took place in his studio. I immensely enjoyed his musicality, his ability to make it simple. I immediately thought of concerts in Schubert’s salon. Granted, there are larger than life concerts, and the feeling there is different. But here this is music activity that brings magic back into our life.”
Plitmann goes on, “We have a mutual friend, composer Sharon Farber, who lives in Los Angeles.She is an active film, TV and concert music composer and a 3 time Emmy award nominated. So we perform her music, which I appreciate a lot. This will not be a concert of purely contemporary music; this time it will be different. We do covers of The Beatles, songs by Matti Caspi, etc. It will be fun! As for Hagai – yes, he is an artist who shares. After our first concert, I told him that I’d love to perform with him when I come to Israel. Because for me music making of this kind is the meaning of my life. And my personal scale of preferences is like this: kids, friends, good food – and then comes the music!”
Yodan adds, “With Hila, everything is on eye level. Not only when you talk with her but, which is even more important, in music making. Already at the first rehearsal we just jumped into the water – no explanations were needed. There was that wonderful intuitive understanding between us. At the same time, you realize that behind every note, every phrase she sings, there is a deep understanding. She performs many contemporary pieces, and she learns everything by heart, which is phenomenal.”