Israeli clarinetist Avigail Malachi-Baev is a long time recipient of the America Israel Cultural Foundation (AICF) scholarships. Her talent and unique sense of expression have led her to play with the New York Chamber Players, the Israeli Symphony Orchestra- Rishon Le Zion and the Haifa Symphony Orchestra under the batons of Maestro Avner Biron and Mastro Asher Fisch (among others), as well as performing at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Symphony Space and many other venues throughout Israel and the U.S. Among being a soloist, orchestra and chamber player, Avigail is currently a faculty member at the Harmony Program, a New York music education program based on the “El Sistema” program. AICF had the wonderful opportunity to get to know Avigail a bit better.
1) What or who inspired you to want to be an artist?
There were actually more than just a few people that inspired me to become a musician( teachers, friends etc.), but I guess the strongest motive was the inside feeling in my guts that there is really nothing else I want, or should be doing but music. It carried me away throughout the long way I’ve made since I decided to be a musician, and it still inspires me to do more and more with every single breath!
2) What was your creative journey that has brought you to where you are in your career today?
I grew up in a small city in Israel, but I was lucky to meet people who showed me what I can do with my talent and helped me create big dreams that led to a wonderful path. I studied first at the Jerusalem Academy where I met so many great, open minded musicians from all over the country. I experienced many successful concerts and musical collaborations, and learned so much about what music has to give. As a performer it was really important to me to understand what an impact each performance had, and what a powerful experience it is for both performers and listeners. From Jerusalem I moved to NYC about 5 years ago to study at Mannes College with one of the best clarinet professors in the world – Charles Neidich. I feel that Mr. Neidich helped me get to where I am today. I learned many things from him, on the professional and personal sides. Since I arrived in NYC, I’ve had many amazing opportunities to perform in the area and the East Coast to participate in both classical and non classical projects with different ensembles and groups, which is what I am still doing as an active freelancer.
3) What do you need as an artist today?
I think I probably need what every artist else needs: support and performance opportunities that can be translated to both self satisfaction and an income you can live on.
4) What creative project are you working on now?
Right now I am proud to be part of 8 weeks long Tango show project at the Thalia Spanish Theater in Queens. The show is a combination of music, dance and song. It is very special, and after the first weekend of shows I can also say happily – very successful! In addition I am also a part of a very unique Klezmer group that I am very proud to be a part of. We’ve been working together for 2 years now. In addition to performing in different venues in the city and working with world renowned Klezmer masters, we enjoy getting to know the music and the true art of the Klezmer musicians.
5) Where do you see yourself and your career in 10 years?
I see myself playing mainly chamber music in different styles (Classical, Klezmer and Tango) and teaching.
6) What does it mean to be an Israeli artist?
It means a lot to me! I am a very proud member of the Israeli music network here in NYC! Even during difficult times in Israel, I see myself as a messenger and feel that it is my duty to represent my country respectfully. Whenever I perform around the world it warms my heart to see and feel how Israeli music and culture are brought to many audiences by so many talented artists – It is a big pride to be part of Israel even from far away!
7) What does it mean to you to have an organization like AICF available in the art world?
AICF is one of a kind organization, not only supporting the arts in a place like Israel, where funds for the arts are unfortunately rare, but also a strong back for every Israeli artist wherever they are! The importance of AICF in the art world is really indescribable. Having AICF in Israel is one of the main reasons for having Israeli art developed and grown! I am really happy to be part of the AICF family and I hope it will keep expanding and I will do as much as I can to help that happen.