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practice, practice, practice


by gary demuth salina journal

the students sat enthralled, watching the flying fingers of violinist itamar zorman as he played a particularly difficult selection from tchaikovsky’s “violin concerto.”

after the enthusiastic applause died down, zorman took questions from his audience of about 75 lakewood middle school orchestra students.

a student raised his hand and asked zorman, “did you ever take private lessons?”

zorman, a graduate of new york city’s juilliard school and manhattan school of music, suppressed a smile.

“i still take lessons every week,” he said.

zorman told the students he also practices the violin about six hours a day.

it’s that kind of dedication to his art that has earned the 24-year-old israeli violinist top awards at the manhattan school of music’s concerto competition, the clare-mont competition in israel, the rubin academy jerusalem competition, the israeli conservatory competition and recently the freiburg international violin competition in germany.

zorman also was the first-prize winner of the salina-based 2010 king award for young artists national music competition. last april, zorman received $10,000 in prize money and an invitation to perform at the 2010-11 season opening concert for the salina symphony.

zorman will perform tchaikovsky’s “violin concerto” during the concert sunday at the stiefel theatre for the performing arts, 151 s. santa fe.

the concert also will feature works by stravinsky and shostakovich and an original composition titled “dove descending” by kenya gillespie, a 2006 graduate of salina south high school and a may 2010 graduate of yale university with a degree in music.

back in salina

zorman was in salina on monday to rehearse with the salina symphony and host a workshop for sixth- through eighth-grade orchestra students of teacher lindsay ladman at lakewood middle school.

zorman told the students that his parents both are musicians — his mother a pianist and his father a composer and pianist. he decided to take up the violin at age 6 because it was an instrument his parents couldn’t play.

“i figured if i played the violin, no one would be able to tell me what to do,” he said.

truthfully, zorman said, “i really liked the sound of the violin. i liked that it could play high registers.”

zorman’s violin demonstration impressed eighth-grade violinist paige ryan, who realized she had a long way to go before reaching zorman’s level of expertise.

“he’s extremely good,” she said. “he makes me want to practice more.”

sixth-grade violinist maya aleshire said she loves tchaikovsky and someday would like to play the russian composer’s music as well as zorman.

“(tchaikovsky) is hard to play, but i’m going to try my hardest to be really good,” she said. “you have to practice a lot like (zorman).”

ladman hopes zorman’s visit helps motivate her students to become better musicians.

“it’s incredible for them to hear this caliber of musician,” he said. “the kids were so excited to see him. they don’t hear stuff like that often.”

zorman can easily relate to the student musicians; it hasn’t been that long since he was a violinist in a public school orchestra in tel-aviv.

“i went to a regular school, not to a special arts school,” he said. “my parents wanted me to be in the real world.”

wonderful teachers

zorman said he was lucky to have had some great teachers in israel, particularly nava milo, with whom he took private lessons beginning at age 14.

“i studied with her for five years, and she transformed my playing,” he said.

after high school graduation, zorman spent a mandatory three years in the israeli army, where he was first violinist in the israeli army quartet. less than 10 days after being discharged in 2006, zorman said, he was on a plane to new york city to study music at the famed juilliard school.

zorman earned a master of music degree from juilliard and then spent a year at the manhattan school of music to earn an artist diploma.

“it’s not an academic degree but an opportunity to get things going careerwise while still in school,” zorman said.

zorman has returned to the juilliard school to study with teacher sylvia rosenberg for two more years. his goal is to continue building his career as a professional violinist.

salina businessman craig king, sponsor of the king award, believes zorman is well on his way to music greatness. king said zorman exemplifies what the salina music competition is all about — recognizing both great talent and even greater people.

“he is the nicest young man,” king said. “he’s accomplished so much but is so down to earth. i feel lucky to have had world-class musicians in this competition, and itamar is first-rate. he’s destined for the world stage.”

nreporter gary demuth can be reached at 822-1405 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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