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It's the Library -- Loud and Clear!

April 12, 2007 By:
Marsha Bryan Edelman, JE Feature
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Mother and son reunion: Duo Haroz in Bala Cynwyd

Most people think of the library as a place for quiet reading -- with the emphasis on quiet. But on Sunday afternoon, April 22, at 2 p.m., the reading room at the Bala Cynwyd Library will be transformed into a listening room, and visitors will be hearing a very unusual combination of sounds as the Duo Haroz presents an afternoon of music for trombone and harp.

The trombone will be played by Israeli-born Nitzan Haroz, principal trombone of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 1995, and an instructor at the Curtis Institute of Music and Temple University. He will be joined on harp by his mother, Adina Haroz, a Jerusalem native and renowned performer who regularly appears in recitals, with chamber ensembles and as a soloist with orchestras in Israel and around the world. The library is located at North Highland and Old Lancaster roads in Bala Cynwyd.

Adina Haroz came from a large family of seven siblings who all played musical instruments. She started on the piano, then switched to the harp; she has a brother who plays cello in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and two sisters who teach violin.

Despite being surrounded by all these strings, young Nitzan saw a picture of a trombone when he was just 9, and decided that was the instrument he would play. Nitzan was soon playing in youth orchestras. The young man toyed with a professional career, and performed his army duty playing in the Israel Defense Force Band.

Three years of near-nonstop playing (even if it was mostly military marches) helped him make up his mind in the affirmative; after the service, he joined the Rishon Le Zion Opera and Symphony Orchestra. Nitzan followed the advice of friends, and continued his studies at Juilliard, then served two years as assistant principal trombone with the New York Philharmonic before taking the top trombone job in Philadelphia.

He works hard to find his own voice as a performer, seeking out music that will reveal the singing quality of an instrument not usually associated with solo work. Ironically, though, his unique approach to music-making and his efforts to assert his individuality are part of what drove him to establish a musical partnership with his mother, and to commission new music for them to perform together.

Adina Haroz is no stranger to new music: Her repertoire as a solo harpist includes several works that were dedicated to her, and she has performed the world premieres of compositions by Yehezkel Braun and Haim Permont. She has been particularly active as an ambassador for Israeli music, winning plaudits for her performances.

Harps on Discovering Talent

She has also been involved in identifying new musical talents, serving as a judge for the prestigious International Harp Competition held triennially in Israel, and as a member of the board of directors of the World Harp Congress. In 1997, she founded Inbalim, a center for harp and small chamber ensemble concerts, located in Zichron Ya'akov, Israel.

Nitzan began performing with his mother when he was still a teenager, appearing occasionally in a selection or two on one of her programs. The partnership grew over the years.

In separate interviews, both Adina and Nitzan Haroz speak of their relationship as a collaboration of colleagues. Nitzan hastened to express love and respect for his mother, as both a parent and a musician, but is proud that he has finally become comfortable asserting his musical ideas -- and often winning his mother over to his point of view.

Adina, who described herself as a flexible musician who plays often with other artists in a variety of chamber groupings, finds that she and Nitzan are able to have a "spiritual dialogue" in their music-making.

The duo does quite a lot of talking about the music they perform, since the unusual combination of their harp and trombone means that almost all of their repertoire is adapted from settings for other instruments. The program at the library will demonstrate the extent to which they are able to explore a wide range of styles, including works by the 17th-century composer Carlo Tessarini; two 19th-century composers, Brahms and Donizetti; Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla; and contemporary Israeli Ronn Yedidia.

Just one work on the program -- by another Israeli composer, Gideon Lewensohn -- was originally commissioned for harp and trombone.

Marsha Bryan Edelman, Ed.D., is a professor of music at Gratz College.

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