Yoav Levanon, pianist

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

I had a piano at home and as a curious child I tried it and immediately fell in love with the sound. I started playing piano with a teacher at the age of 3 and performing in front of audience at 4. When I was 6, I performed in Carnegie Hall and at 7 started performing with orchestras. After a very successful performance of Chopin’s First Concerto in Italy when I was 11, I decided to dedicate my life to pursuing a career in music. As time has gone by, my passion has just become stronger. Musicians, composers, teachers and mentors who I have worked with – such as Murray Perahia, Sergei Babayan, Sir Andras Schiff – have been the most important influences on me.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

I can mention many challenges and each has been the ‘greatest’ in that moment. This is what makes my artistic life exciting and interesting.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

I am most proud of performances that have challenged me and then gone well. Among many I think of concerts with the ‘Moscow Virtuosi’ orchestra when I was 7, Chopin’s First Concerto in Teatro San Carlo at 11, Rachmaninoff’s Second Concerto with Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at 13 and being the youngest artist to perform a solo recital at the Verbier Festival when I was 14.

I am extremely proud of everything around my upcoming debut album with Warner Classics – from the pieces in it to the concept of the album. Called “A monument for Beethoven”, it features pieces composed by Liszt, Chopin, Mendelsohn and Schuman who all made a major contribution to raising funds to create the famous statue of Beethoven in Bonn.

Which particular works/composers do you think you perform best?

I love composers ranging from Baroque to contemporary music, and each composer inspires me in a different way. When I decide to perform a new piece, I try to learn as much as I can about the piece and the composer and best express it in my performance.

What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?

I always remember that I am lucky to follow my passion, live music and enjoy being on stage while sharing music with the audience. This brings me a lot of inspiration.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

I constantly look around for inspiration, listen to new things, even outside my own genre. I see me and my audience as ‘one’ and try to build a journey for us. A concert is an experience where music comes to life and enlightens us. Every time the story behind how it all came together is different, but it’s composed of pieces which I love, enjoy and want to share with my audience.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

I have many. A good concert venue consists of two things – good acoustics and great audience.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

I have many. What comes up right now to my mind – the time when I played Mozart Concerto for two pianos and orchestra with Maestro Sergei Babayan and my page turner flipped few extra pages…. Fortunately, I knew it by heart.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

I always want to reflect how the composer would have wished the piece to be performed but also present my authentic personal interpretation. And, when performing with an audience, making that connection where you feel that you opened a channel of communication with them that is beyond what words can do.

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?

Keep on exploring and do things you haven’t done before. Get out of your comfort zone. It will be fun and help you grow as an artist.

What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music’s audiences?

Let young people experience a little bit of what classical music has to offer through the digital and social media that they use, in a creative way.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Accepting a realistic outlook on life. Realising that there are ‘waves’, ups and downs, and not relying on superficial things for being happy. Once you reach the point where you are just happy simply because you exist and wake up every morning, that’s true happiness. For perfect happiness it is important to pursue your passion, something that has a meaning to you, knowing that you’re spending your time on moving towards something that serves a true purpose.

What is your most treasured possession?

Not exactly a “possession”, but I’d say my incredible family. Nothing could ever reach the meaning that they have for me.

What is your present state of mind?

Big enthusiasm about new pieces that I am learning, next performances and album recordings. I love what I do!

Yoav Levanon gives his debut UK recital as part of HP Futures at St Martin-in-the-Fields on Saturday 19 March. His debut album for Warner Classics, ‘A Monument to Beethoven’, is out on 6 May 2022

Having started his professional piano education at the age of 3, Yoav Levanon, 17, has an impressive career of performances, winning competitions, receiving prestigious awards, creative excellence grants and playing with orchestras around the world.

At the beginning of 2021, Yoav took part in a filmed project with maestro Daniel Barenboim and soon after he signed an exclusive artist agreement with Warner Classics. Later during the year, he performed on some of the most prestigious stages and festivals in France, Germany, Israel, Latvia, and recently, with the “Orchestre de la Swiss Romande” in Geneve, Switzerland. Among his concerts, Yoav performed in the Louis Vuitton Foundation and Radio France Grand Auditorium, Paris, and in St. Petersburg, Russia. At the end of 2021, Yoav was signed by Harrison Parrot for world-wide general management.

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