Talia Ilan

We had the pleasure of talking to the marvelous Israeli conductor, Talia Ilan for our Orange Twist this week - thank you for this gorgeous photo! Credit: Fred Braunstein. If you happen to be in Tel Aviv, check out here Events and catch a concert!

We all know HELLO STAGE’s favorite color! What’s yours?

My favorite color is Turquoise.

What was the best advice a teacher ever gave you?

Several of my major teachers gave me their "best advice".

I'll mention a very practical one which was bestowed upon me by my conducting teacher Maestro Mendi Rodan:

"A musician should not be disturbed by any distraction".

During the conducting lesson he used to open the windows of our classroom so that the sound from the saxophones practice room would enter the class. By enforcing this habit, it made me adjust myself to disturbing noise during rehearsals or even performances.

How has your practice changed with time?

My practicing, which is actually analyzing and memorizing the score, is mainly in front of the score, on the piano or on the desk (many times also on the road – on buses, trains and airplanes). Throughout the years the more scores I have in command, it becomes faster and easier to analyze and memorize them, as well as planning better for future rehearsals.

What do you think is the most important trait of a successful artist in today’s modern world?

I would like to believe that the professional musical ability should always be the most important trait of a successful artist. Nowadays I feel there are too many superficial factors that create famous artists.

How much time do you spend every day on Facebook, twitter, and which other ways do you use to promote yourself?

I don't have Facebook. On twitter I spend a few minutes here and there when I feel I need to take a break from my work and connect to the international musical scene.

You juggle conducting a few orchestras and hold a teaching position as well, not to mention taking care of your family, what are your best time management tips?

I learned that the best way to manage time is to do the most important things first, and not to delay assignments.

Once while reading about Shostakovitch I learned that he said: "I feel freer when I receive more rules in Fugue". This makes me think about drawing a parallel to my case. Often I end up going to sleep not earlier than 2 am, getting up at around 7, and sometimes even waking up for my baby in the middle of the night. Of course I couldn't manage without the great help of my amazing husband, who is himself a conductor and conducting teacher at the Tel Aviv University.

My first challenge as a mother of two little ones was keeping my concert schedule with the Haifa Symphony three weeks after giving birth to Shira. The second one was on a five-week tour of China, where both myself and my husband had engagements conducting different orchestras. We took our 2 daughters with us (and left our 3 pets in good hands). I cannot say it was easy, especially when our baby Shira got sick exactly on the week I was working with the Qingdao Symphony Orchestra. Once I was late for a morning rehearsal in order to find a doctor for Shira. The orchestra members were very considerate and also helped me with finding the right doctor!

My motto is: Never give up your career, but family comes first.

Does it bother you that people are asking you if being a woman conductor is still seen as the exception?

What bothers me is that this kind of question actually reflects the reality. Although I feel there is somewhat of an evolution since I started as a young conductor around 20 years ago, the glass ceiling is still strongly there. I am sure there are many orchestras in the world that have never engaged a woman conductor. I believe the majority of classical music concert goers are much more open minded than many of the managers.

Barbara Hunnigan recently stated in an Interview fro the Guardian that she prefers to conduct in the following attire;
..."I’ve worn a sleeveless dress to conduct. It’s something I can move in."
What are your thoughts on the matter?

We woman conductors have the privilege to choose our style of attire on the podium just because there is no tradition for us…!

I am still looking for the perfect outfit that I will feel best with. I do agree with Barbara that it is indeed important to feel free, and not let your outfit disturb you. Personally, I feel comfortable with a feminine suit.

Tell us about the best place to eat in Tel Aviv!

Home! Since my husband is the best cook!

There is also a small Italian home-made pasta restaurant "IL Pastaio". They make amazing Ravioli! It is located on 27 Ibn Gvirol Street which is centrally located and a 2 minute walk from Tel Aviv's main concert hall.

Talia Ilan is Music Director of the "Israel Stage Orchestra", Music Director of the "Campus" Symphony Orchestra Ramat Hasharon, Guest conductor with The Israel Chamber Orchestra, The Israel Sinfonietta Be'er Sheva, The New Haifa Symphony Orchestra, the Ashdod Symphony Orchestra and the Ra'anana Symphonette Orchestra. She is also the conductor of the "Reflex" ensemble of contemporary music (NY – Tel Aviv). You can follow and book Talia Ilan on Hello Stage
and on her website!
Author: Nina Lucas HELLO STAGE
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