At 23 years old, violinist Asi Matathias has already been recognized as one of the most celebrated talents of his generation. He made his debut at the age of fourteen with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Zubin Mehta, displaying a musical maturity and inspiration far beyond his years.
At just six, he started playing the violin. In Israel, he studied with Chaim Taub, and later on at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna as the youngest student to be enrolled at the University. He then continued his studies with violinist Aaron Rosand. Mr. Matathias was awarded a scholarship and a certificate of merit, and has been supported by the America-Israel Cultural Foundation since 1997. Currently, he is studying with the famed Pinchas Zukerman and his teaching associate Patinka Kopec at the Manhattan School of Music where he is the recipient of the Joe Lewis Jefferson and the Ambrose Monell Awards.
1) What or who inspired you to want to be an artist?
As a young boy in Israel I heard a violinist play on the radio. I was immediately enchanted by the incredible sound and playing. The violinist was Jascha Heifetz. He was definitely the first inspiration and till this very day I am moved whenever I hear that sound. Sound for me has always been a fascination. It is an element of connection. Perhaps more important than seeing and feeling. And when it sounds right, it hits you exactly where it should. Of course, there were other figures and moments that have supported and led me in certain directions. My teacher Pinchas Zukerman has clearly made an enormous effect on me. Listening to him play up close and working with him for all these years has been an incredible influence.
2) What was your creative journey that has brought you to where you are in your career today?
I started playing the violin when I was 6. I was very fortunate to have wonderful teachers. I mentioned Pinchas Zukerman and Patinka Kopec but there were also Chaim Taub in Israel and later on I spent 3 years at the Hochschule in Vienna. Big influences were also Aaron Rosand and David Nadien; Both incredible violinists whom I owe a lot to. I think that the opportunity to work with all these people that were not only great pedagogs but also great performers have enabled me a great fountain of knowledge. One that I still drink from today.
3) What do you need as an artist today?
Like every artist: Audience. In my opinion, for an artist the most important thing is to communicate,whether it is in playing or if it is in teaching. It is our duty as musicians to bring our art to as many people as possible.
4) What creative project are you working on now?
I am now just before going on concert tour to Brazil where I will play a great deal of chamber music. Afterwards I will play a series of solo concerts with the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra and later this season I will also have my Berlin Philharmonie and Carnegie Znakel Hall Recital Debuts.
5) Where do you see yourself and your career in 10 years?
Well, I hope that alongside the solo concerts and chamber music I will also have more time to dedicate to teaching. One of the things my teachers stressed was to pass on the torch and I hope to have some more time to dedicate myself to that.
6) What does it mean to you to be an Israeli artist?
Even though I have been living away from Israel for quite some time, Israel is always “home”. Having grown up in Israel I was lucky to have so many opportunities to listen to great musicians Israel has brought forth. They have helped shape my artistic development and I am thankful for that.
7) What does it mean to you to have an organization like AICF supporting Israeli culture in the past 75 years?
It is a great privilege to be supported by an organization like AICF. It is a wonderful organization in the history of Israel’s music and cultural life, its nobility of purpose means a great deal to all of us and will always continue to remain so in the future.