Single line portrait by artist Trae Tay

Interviewed by Ali King
Director, Marketing and Business Development
Curtis Institute of Music

November 10, 2020

AK: Where are you right now?

AM: Currently I’m at my parents’ home in Tel Aviv, Israel. I returned from Philadelphia in July when my apartment lease ended and I didn’t have a job lined up in the U.S.

AK: Are you still looking for jobs in the U.S.?

AM: After six years at Curtis I told myself there was no way I’d be a student again, but then I found this program, a Masters in Nonprofit Management and Leadership at the Rothberg International School of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which I started a month ago.

AK: What job do you hope this program will prepare you for in the future?

AM: I think my dream job is to manage an orchestra, or to be the CEO of a presenting hall or a chamber music series — something more administrative that still has an artistic vision. With my background as a musician and performer, I could bring that knowledge to the management side of the house.

AK: Have you met people in these types of positions who inspired you?

AM: Before coming to Curtis I played a lot with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestra’s management is made up of musicians, one of whom is my former horn teacher, Yoel Abadi. He inspired me, as well as Miles Cohen, the Artistic Director of the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. At the beginning of every concert Miles speaks directly to the audience and is so charismatic; he helped me think about the transformation from performer to manager.

AK: Where in the world would you want to your next job to be?

AM: Tough question! I grew up in Israel and was here until the age of 21. The moment I finished my military service, literally three days after, I moved to Curtis. It was always obvious that I was going to study in the U.S. and then come back, to hopefully play in the Israel Philharmonic. After a few years in the U.S., I suddenly felt very comfortable there, and started questioning my whole plan. And now I’m here again, which was supposed to be only for a few months, and now that’s not the case of course. It’s not out of the question that I’d live in another country again, and I generally adjust to where I am.

AK: Are there other musicians in your family?

AM: Oh yeah! My mom is a professional oboist in the Israel Philharmonic, and my dad used to be a bassoonist. My grandmother, who just celebrated her 90th birthday, was a legendary piano teacher in Jerusalem. One of her former students, Benjamin Hochman, is also a Curtis alumnus and performed with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra when I was a student there.

AK: It’s in the genes! So they understand the unpredictable life of a musician, it sounds like…

AM: They totally get it. I think they’re very happy that I’m not necessarily set on being only a performer. My mom’s entire career shifted with COVID-19. I think all musicians around the world need to rethink their path, maybe at least learn another thing to do. If there is a musician out there who thinks they can change nothing — good luck!

AK: Tell me about your time on Student Council at Curtis.

AM: I was on Student Council for three years, culminating in being its president. During my third year at Curtis I discovered that I had focal dystonia. I had a lot of issues physically playing, and by the time I finally was diagnosed, it was clear that recovery would mean basically relearning how to play the instrument, which is why I stayed for three more years with the support of the dean and my teachers. While I was recovering, I had to find new ways to stay productive and wanted to give back to the community, which resulted in my starting a number of student jobs and joining Student Council.

AK: What advice would you give to future Student Council leaders?

AM: I think Student Council leaders should be people who care about the other students and Curtis at large. Sometimes people thought it wasn’t necessarily a good thing that I wasn’t only a representative for the student body, but one for the administration too. I felt like the position required an open mind and knowing how the entire school works, what the Board does, etc. I loved the complexity. If you remember the scenario with vandalism on campus a few years ago — I was so mad about it, and sided with the administration’s decision to lock the practice rooms. I heard criticism about that punishment being too broad, but we call it a student body, and despite all of our individual attention, I felt like we were a community and needed to hold each other accountable. It’s part of learning how the world works.

AK: What advice would you give to the student body?

AM: During my time at Curtis we had different kinds of social engagement and entrepreneurial opportunities. Some students perceived these activities as simply taking time away from practicing their instruments. My advice is to consider them one of the most valuable things you do at Curtis! Get outside of your comfort zone so that when the next crisis comes along, you’ll be ready to overcome struggles creatively and skillfully — even some of the greatest soloists in the world are out of work during this pandemic. This advice includes faculty too; I hope teachers realize how important these other activities are, and encourage their students to pursue them in addition to practicing.

Conversations with Curtis Institute of Music young alumni. Portraits by Philadelphia artists. Learn more @CurtisInstitute on social media and at www.curtis.edu.