Features


Award-Winning Soloist Joins Spokane Symphony For Show

THURSDAY, OCT. 23, 1997

The rewards of winning a major music competition include a cash prize, instant public acclaim and a burst of media attention.

Those honors often quickly fade. The best prize a competition winner can receive is a guarantee of performances.

The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is lavish with its monetary awards, and its top finishers attract worldwide attention. But each of the three prize winners receive the things every young concert artist needs most: engagements and management services.

Aviram Reichert, bronze medal winner in the 1997 Cliburn Competition, will perform Friday with the Spokane Symphony as the soloist on Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

The program also includes Dvorak’s “Carnival” Overture and Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, and will be led by Jung-Ho Pak, the orchestra’s associate conductor.

Reichert just turned 26. He grew up in the suburbs of Tel Aviv, Israel. His mother was a schoolteacher; his father ran a factory that recycled scrap iron. Nothing in the family history suggested a career in music, but it has been central to Reichert since he was a child.

“I began playing the piano when I was 5 years old,” Reichert says. Explaining his early start, the pianist adds, after a gentle laugh, “Well, I had this Jewish mother. None of the previous generations in my family played music, but my sister and younger brothers played, though only as a hobby. She was obviously a big influence.

“But I concentrated on the piano from the beginning, and no one had to force me to practice.”

The result of that unforced practice and Reichert’s rapid advancement was a series of competition success that led to his bronze medal.

“I’d heard of the Cliburn Competition since I was very young,” he says, “almost like two years after I started studying the piano. I knew if I ever wanted to be a professional pianist, I would have to do competitions, and the Van Cliburn is the most difficult one and the one that gets you the most in the way of recognition and engagements.”

Reichert began the round of competitions in Taipei when he was 19. “When you’re 19, you don’t think ahead,” he recalls. “You just play from one event to the other. Sometimes you play faster than you ever imagined, or you play so slow you could grab a coffee between the first and second note.

“When I listen today to the recording of my first competition, I could just slap myself. But as you get experience, you learn what to do better and in the end maybe you’ll be happy.”

Reichert has every reason to be happy. This summer’s success in the 10th Van Cliburn International Competition in Fort Worth put his record at six finishes among the top ranks in the 12 competitions he entered. Winning the Cliburn bronze brought Reichert a cash award of $10,000, two seasons of concert tours and a CD recording contract.

Other Cliburn winners this year include gold medalist Jon Nakamatsu of California and silver medalist Yakov Kasman from Russia.

“I didn’t even know that I would be a professional musician until I was 18,” Reichert says. “I had to serve in the army for three years, as every young person does in Israel. I had a choice of taking a difficult examination for a special program called Musician in the Army - only eight people are admitted - or simply give up the thought of a career as a musician. That time of a young musician’s life is very crucial. So I took the exam and passed; I knew that this would be my career.”

Reichert enrolled at the Rubin Academy in Tel Aviv with Arie Vardi, a major figure in music in Israel and a frequent juror in international piano competitions. Reichert would study with Vardi for the next six years.

Reichert is now on the first of three tours of North America this season; the Harmonia Mundi label has just released a CD of his performances of Schubert and Chopin, and European engagements are increasing as a result of the spillover of the recognition he received following his success in the Cliburn Competition.

“The biggest change is my schedule, with many more concerts than I would have ordinarily,” Reichert says, “but as a Cliburn winner there is a completely different level of attention; people want to hear what a winner of this famous competition is like.”

For Reichert, what it is like being a Cliburn winner is busy and happy.

, DataTimes MEMO: Conductor Jung-Ho Pak will discuss the music on Friday’s program at 7 p.m. in the Opera House auditorium as part of the Gladys Brooks Pre-Concert Talks series.

This sidebar appeared with the story: CONCERT The Spokane Symphony and guest artist Aviram Reichert will perform Friday at 8 p.m. at the Spokane Opera House. Tickets: $13.50 to $28.50, available at the symphony ticket office (624-1200), G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT.

Conductor Jung-Ho Pak will discuss the music on Friday’s program at 7 p.m. in the Opera House auditorium as part of the Gladys Brooks Pre-Concert Talks series.

This sidebar appeared with the story: CONCERT The Spokane Symphony and guest artist Aviram Reichert will perform Friday at 8 p.m. at the Spokane Opera House. Tickets: $13.50 to $28.50, available at the symphony ticket office (624-1200), G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT.



Click here to comment on this story »