Meet LABA’s International Guitar Virtuoso

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We had the privilege of speaking with guitairist/composer virtuoso Nadav Lev, a LABA Fellow with serious international performance credits that include Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Merkin Concert Hall in New York City, the Centro Cultural Espanol in Miami, and Iglesia De Sampaio De Antealtares in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Nadav let us into his past and his current process as he is deep into rehearsals for his premiere work Shomeret Layla (the Night Watcher): for female vocalist, electric guitar and live electronics. The piece will be performed on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at MOTHER: Creator/Destroyer at 7:30pm at the Theater at the 14th Street Y. Click Here for Tickets.

Q: Tell us about your musical background. When did you start playing and what musically inspires you?

I started playing the guitar when I was 9 years old, in kibbutz Nachshon in Israel, where I grew up. I loved music and was attracted to it from a very young age. I had an urge to be able to produce music by myself and express myself with sound. I then discovered the guitar and fell in love with it. The first music I loved and was inspired by was Israeli folk-rock music, especially Shalom Hanoch, of whom I knew all songs by heart at age of 11. Since then I had gone through a great variety of musical styles – as a teenager I was immersed in jazz, later playing rock and from there made my way to study composition and classical guitar. Today, although formally in the classical world, I try to defy strict categorization and allow the various influences I’ve acquired אם resonate and help me create my own personal voice and language.

Q: How does the study of ancient Jewish texts inspire the creation of new work?

The connection between text and music is a complex issue, which I think about a lot. Although we are used to encountering this juncture of music and text all the time, it’s important to remember that these forms of expression are two different entities. What connects them and make them “work together” is in many ways a mystery.
In my work, it is always a delicate dance between analyzing and interpreting intellectually on the one hand, and trying to allow the text with its meanings, but also with it built-in music, to reverberate into me on the other, and come back out as it “wants” to.

Q: How has being a LABA fellow effected your work as an artist?

The opportunity to study and interact with other artists in an open and stimulating environment has been inspiring and enriching. The ways in which my artistic activity is influenced by this study and encounters are often indirect and hidden, but they are doubtlessly felt and present. Just like with physical nutrition this food for the soul gives me, after digested well, the energy and nutrients are vital for creation.

Q: Tell us about your collaborators. What are they contributing to your new work?

I feel very lucky to work with composer and sound artist Guy Barash, singer Re’ut Ben-Ze’ev and visual artists Omer and Tal Golan. Both the audio and visual artists contribute their unique voice and vision, in a way that responds to my music and connects to it in various levels: Guy Barash’s live electronic processing serves as an expansion of the singer’s voice, allowing it to resonate in transcendent sonorities and with multiple layers. Omer and Tal Golan add video projection that includes both prearranged materials and live processing of visuals, taken by live cameras on stage. In both cases there is a strong emphasis on the reaction of these collaborative artists in real time to what happens in the moment. Re’ut Ben-Ze’ev is a uniquely expressive performer who is bringing to the piece a strong theatrical presence and distinct, uncompromising artistic personality, along with her beautiful voice.

See Nadav Lev’s new work Shomeret Layla (the Night Watcher): for female vocalist, electric guitar and live electronics. The piece will be performed on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at MOTHER: Creator/Destroyer at 7:30pm at the Theater at the 14th Street Y. Click Here for Tickets.

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