Profile: Avi Taler, conductor

Avi is the winner of the Bob and Beryl Harding Young Conductor bursary holder and is conducting the Havant Symphony Orchestra on 1 October 2022. He’s provided some personal observations here.

What have been the greatest challenges of your musical career so far?

As many others would also surely agree, the coronavirus pandemic has been my biggest challenge so far. It struck just before my last term at the Royal College of Music, where some exciting events in grand venues and masterclasses with celebrated conductors were supposed to take place. It was hard to impossible to make music during the days of lockdown. Since then, the conducting world has changed in several aspects, and the opportunities we had hoped to have earlier, and the people who apply for them have changed as well, to the point where everyone needs to readjust their plans and routes.

What are the particular pleasures and challenges of collaborating with other musicians?

I think that if I’d not been collaborating with other musicians, I would not have picked conducting: this was what appealed to me the most, the option to work with others, share the experience, thoughts, knowledge and emotions and create together. There is nothing more pleasing when a group of committed musicians achieve a satisfying performance, rehearsal or playing, when things work easily and smoothly. A potential challenge could be wanting to be liked by all. But this is not what conducting or musicianship is about.

Which performances are you most proud of?

In 2015 I performed De Falla’s original version of El Amor Brujo along with colleague students, celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the piece. That project was mainly my idea, and I worked very hard, with the support of many, to make it come true: from learning the music and lyrics in an impeccable way, tutoring the soloist, and administering all other aspects related to the program. The performances were very successful, and a very good video was made of it, which has had many views on YouTube. This was my first official performance as a conductor, and the video enabled me to be offered places in several conservatoires and competitions, which would later guarantee my place at the RCM and lead my journey to this part of the world.

What are your most memorable experiences, either as a performer, composer or listener?

In early 2020 I had the privilege and honour to record with colleagues and friends at Abbey Road Studios. That was an extraordinary experience: the session was led by the studio’s staff – taking into account what musicians and what numbers were recorded there, I can’t be humbled enough. And the recording we made simply moves my heart every time I listen to it.

Israeli conductor, pianist and choral singer Avi Taler, who completed his orchestral conducting bachelor of music and Master of Music in choral conducting in the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel-Aviv University, graduated from the Royal College of Music’s Conducting Class of 2020, where he was the only selected student in his cohort. Besides conducting all the performing bodies in College, Avi recorded in Abbey Road Studio 1.

As an educator, Avi held various director positions, including the conductor of advanced municipal youth concert bands and choirs in Israel.

A past fellow of the Polonsky Foundation, the Selma Manders & B’nai B’rith Leo Baeck (London) Lodge, the Colton Foundation, the America-Israel Culture Foundation, the Ashdod Foundation and the Or-Shalom Memorial Trust, Avi is currently supported by Talent Unlimited Charity and the Incorporated Society of Musicians.

In 2021 Avi was shortlisted for the finals of the Lanyi International Conducting Competition and Only Stage Conducting Competition. The Royal Philharmonic Society awarded Avi with an Enterprise Award for creating a unique remote performing ensemble. His future engagements include a Royal Albert Hall debut with ENO collaboration in June 2023.

Photo credit: Phil Rowley

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