The guitar as a path to classical music

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Yaniv Attar. Photos courtesy of Salina Symphony”/>
Yaniv Attar. Photos courtesy of the Salina Symphony Orchestra

By GARY DEMUTH
For the Salina Symphony

A guitar teacher agreeing with Bach made Yaniv Attar fall in love with classical music.

Hailing from Israel, Attar’s journey to a career as a professional musician and bandleader began with an acoustic guitar his mother bought him.

“She wanted me to have some kind of music in my life,” Attar said. “All she could afford to buy me was a guitar, thinking I would play folk music.”

During one of his first guitar lessons, the teacher started tuning Attar’s guitar by playing a classic piece by Johann Sebastian Bach. Attar was instantly struck by the glorious sound he heard flowing from the instrument.

“I told him I wanted to learn this piece,” Attar said. “He told me that classical guitar was a very different way to teach. I said I didn’t care; I have to learn this.

Through intense study, Attar eventually became an accomplished classical guitarist, becoming the first guitarist to win the Aviv Competition Prize in Israel and the first guitarist to win the concerto competition at the Juilliard School in New York.

Despite his success as a classical guitarist, conducting became Attar’s first love. He is the fourth of five finalists vying for the position of conductor and musical director of the Salina Symphony Orchestra. His concert, Melodic Journey, is March 27 at 4 p.m. at the Stiefel Theater for the Performing Arts, 151 S. Santa Fe.

The program will include an interpretation of the melodic and masterful music of Tchaikovsky Fifth Symphonythe rhythms influenced by Mexico Danzon No. 2 by Arturo Marquez and Joaquin Rodrigo’s soulful and poetic Council of Aranjuezwith classical guitarist Daniel Bolshoy.

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Attar and Bolshoy will give a pre-concert talk starting at 3 p.m. on March 27 in the Watson Room of the Stiefel Theater.

“We are thrilled to introduce our Music Director finalists to our customers and the community this season,” said Adrienne Allen, General Manager of the Salina Symphony. “Our research opens an exciting new chapter for the Symphony.”

Impressed by the symphony

Attar said he researched the Salina Symphony before applying for the director position and was impressed with what he found.

“I have fellow conductors who have told me great things about the Salina Symphony,” he said. “The community is very supportive of the orchestra. They were also very organized in their search.

Attar is grateful to be one of five finalists for the job and invited to conduct a live concert with musicians from Salina Symphony.

“A conductor’s real job is what happens during rehearsals, what you hear, how you communicate with the orchestra and how you direct it,” he said.

Attar said his main goal as a conductor was to “build the sound of an orchestra” and to be a good collaborator.

“I love collaborating with the musicians to craft a season together,” he said. “It’s a big plus for me.”

music education

Attar, who studied with Israel Edelson in Jerusalem, Virginia Allen at the Juilliard School in New York and Neil Thomson at the Royal College of Music in London, earned a doctorate in music from McGill University and studied with conductors. renowned orchestras such as Kurt Masur. , Leonard Slatkin and Jorma Panula.

During his career, Attar has worked with several orchestras in North America, Europe and Israel, including the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Budapest Dohnanyi Orchestra, the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra and the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra. Jerusalem.

He is the first prize winner of the Duna Szimfonikus Conducting Competition in Budapest, multiple recipient of the Sir Georg Solti Foundation Prize and winner of the Bruno Walter Memorial Foundation Prize.

Attar is currently Music Director of the Bellingham Symphony Orchestra in Bellingham, Washington, where he received the Mayor’s Arts Award for his contribution to the musical life of Bellingham. He is also artistic partner of the Northwest Sinfonietta in Seattle and musical director of the Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra.

During its tenure at Bellingham, the Symphony Orchestra experienced significant growth in audiences, an increase in donations and sponsorships, and an increase in educational and community activities. In 2015 Attar began a series of gigs in Bellingham, Discord Harmonywhich features the music of composers who wrote under duress and oppression.

Attar said the series aims to spark renewed interest in little-known and seldom-played music, while deepening discussion about using art as a tool to transcend oppression and bring a message of hope. and unity.

“When I was a doctoral student, I featured composers whose music was banned, especially Jewish composers,” he said. “Some were written in the concentration camps. I wanted to present some of these works because they are part of the history of music.

Guest artist

Visiting artist Bolshoy is a lecturer at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia, where he directs the guitar program. An Israeli-Canadian guitarist, Bolshoy has been a soloist with over 60 orchestras internationally.

Bolshoy has also performed at numerous chamber music festivals and concert series in North America, Europe, Russia, Asia and the Middle East. His recordings and live performances are often broadcast on CBC Radio, National Public Radio and many classical music stations.

“He’s a wonderful guitar player,” Attar said of Bolshoy. “The public is in a real treat. The classical guitar is not very present in a symphony orchestra.

Fun gig

Attar said he wanted his melodic journey concert is a fun experience for the audience.

“This specific concert is full of incredible melodies and highly rhythmic energy,” he said. “I want people to have fun with this concert and smile after reliving the live music.”

Tickets for the concert can be purchased at the Stiefel Theater box office at 785-827-1998 or online at www.salinasymphony.org. Single entry tickets cost $29 or $39 for adults and $19 for students.

The Stiefel Theater recently suspended its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for show attendance.

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