Here is a short interview with the Musician/teacher/Initiator of Musethica, and most of all a really nice guy – Avri Levitan. It has been such a great pleasure for me getting to know and learn more about Avri and his work. I can’t wait listening to his concert together with Guy Woodcock coming up on March 16th.
Could you explain a little about Musethica? and how it all started?
Musethica started simply from a very strong need of mine, as a teacher (that is my second job) to help my students, especially the advanced ones, to become better musicians and performers. I came to the conclusion that they need to preform more regularly which is a thing they don’t really do in the music academy.
In my mind, preforming is the only way to develop an intuitive way of playing.
I’ve had this idea for many years since I was a student in Paris. I felt I had to perform a musical piece, that I have learned at that time, in order to get better. But it was important to me to performing not just in the Academy or in the Philharmonic but simply to people, so I could learn how to interpret it by the reactions of the people listening. That’s how I developed this model in my mind and then officially we started it in 2012 in Spain, with my Viola class, together with my co-founder Prof. Carmen Marcuello.
We tried it and it worked amazingly well on the musicians and we also noticed there is a fantastic social impact. It all worked out and spread its wings very fast (maybe too fast) and now we are active in 10 different countries around the world.
When did you start playing the Viola?
I started playing the Violin when I was 5 years old and then switched to Viola when I was 15-16. At that time I started studying conducting and I wanted to sit in the orchestra at the other side of the range to see how it feels, so I started playing the Viola and I just fell in love with it.
When was the moment you knew this is what you wanted to be? a musician?
It’s difficult to say. I think that I’ve always wanted to be a musician but it’s a definition that one has to give himself every morning when they wake up. I guess that around the age of 12-13 I realized I can’t live without it, so I would probably have to do it.
How does a normal day in your life looks like?
The question is wrong since I have no such thing as a “normal” day. Every day in my life looks different. My day starts and ends with my family. This is my first “function”. I am a husband to a fantastic women (Maria) and a father to 2 wonderful children. I travel a lot and I’m preforming (about a 100 concerts a year) and doing workshops for Musethica, guest teachings in different universities around the world etc.
What music do you listen to at the end of the day, when you come back home?
I don’t usually listen to Music, I actually like silence. It’s very important for me in my life. But at home we listen to Aretha Franklin, older music, a lot of Jazz, music that my kids like and also some German music.
What inspires you?
It’s a complicated question since I don’t really know what ‘inspiration’ means exactly. I can say that people inspire me, especially my children and my wife, but most of all the special audience we have in the Musethica nights. People with disabilities, from prison, psychiatrical hospitals and such have a very interesting capacity for listening and for perceiving music. Those are the moments which make everything we do worth it.
Since you are a man with many “hats” (founder of Musethica, teacher, musician etc), what is the most favorite part of your work?
I try not to favorite the one over the other, but to take the one that I am doing at that moment more seriously, otherwise it will confuse me and it will hurt the quality of my work. In general, not always so successfully, I am trying to be in the moment, where I am whether it be a person, a student or a musician.
Could you tell us a little about the concert we are about to hear on Framed #20?
The concert with Guy will have a very interesting program. Actually, the combination between guitar and viola is beautiful. I love playing with guitar. Guitar has my favorite kind of sound and music possibilities. We just started practicing, so we’ll see how it works. We have a lot of work to do. The Schubert Arpeggione Sonata, which is a very beautiful music and actually works very well with guitar and even sometimes better than with a piano, because of the balance and the sound possibilities that guitar has. De falla 7 canciones populares are a great example of Spanish culture. We won’t play all of them but some. We will also play some Piazzolla and other interesting things. I think it will be very exciting…