Yuri Liberzon, guitarist

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?

When I was 5 years old, back in Siberia, Russia, my mom took me to a music school to get evaluation to pick an instrument that I would play. After the evaluation, I was recommended to play violin or piano. I began to cry and insisted that I wanted to play the guitar. The requirement for guitar was to be at least 9 years of age, but fortunately my teacher made an exception and took me into his class.

My father would often play guitar at home and from a young age, I was intrigued by its tone and tactile feedback from playing the strings. Later, when I was 10 years old, I moved to Israel with my family and had to find a different teacher. I was very fortunate with my teachers in Israel. My second teacher there was Yaron Hasson who not only was a wonderful guitarist and teacher, but he helped me further solidify my bond with music. After my first lesson with Yaron, I immediately knew that I want to do this professionally for the rest of my life.

Being a musician for me is much more than something that I do; it is my life on many levels. It satisfies me emotionally and intellectually. I get to enjoy the social aspects of performing and visiting places. Later, when I went to college, my teacher Manuel Barrueco had a tremendous impact on my playing. He was and is my model of an artist who is always working on getting better. Another artist that had an influence on me is lutenist Hopkinson Smith. I highly admire his musicianship and ability to have rhythmic flexibility that feels very natural and human.

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

Most recently, balancing work and raising my 15-month-old son. Fortunately, things are starting to get into a groove and I able to get regular practice. Another big challenge was, and still is the pandemic. Many musicians lost motivation to practice because of lack of performances. I kept myself busy learning new repertoire for my next recording. During this time, I was able to record and release an album of music by composer Konstantin Vassiliev on the Naxos label.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

My recording of 3 Violin Sonatas by J.S. Bach. It was a very meaningful project for me. Music is absolutely wonderful and I enjoyed my journey of working on every detail of this recording.

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

It is very difficult for me to know the answer to this. I have always loved playing music by J.S. Bach and other baroque composers. For me, good music is good music. I don’t limit myself to specific genres. I find it enjoyable to blur boundaries between genres and play music that is beautiful. In general, I like to programme my concerts with variety of different music from different time periods. For example, Bach, Beatles, Fernando Sor, Astor Piazzolla, etc.

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

I spend time connecting to my body and my instrument. I go over spots that may need revisiting and practice slowly with relaxed hands to achieve the most beautiful tone I can.

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

There are many considerations that go into choosing a successful programme: I have to love the music that I play, and it needs to challenge me in some way technically, musically or both.

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

I prefer venues with natural acoustics that do not require amplification or a very minimal amount.

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

Educating the audiences, by sharing more background about music that they will be listening to. Having more interaction with the audience. Providing access to music lessons to less privileged children. Encouraging concert attendance.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

To this day I remember attending a concert by a musician from England who played on a wooden flute. It was as if I was listening to a person telling a story. The way every note was played made absolute sense to be. I remember getting goosebumps and being deeply moved by this performance.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

To be able to make music for as long as possible. Have ability to perform for people, to continue rediscovering yourself and keep finding new inspirations. To not lose sense of curiosity and excitement.

What advice would you give to young/aspiring musicians?

Music has incredible power that is extremely positive and it has the ability to bring enormous joy to people. Sometimes the path of a musician is not without difficulties, but it’s important to not measure success only with the amount of how many people like your art on social media. In my opinion, value of art cannot be measured by amount of likes or views. Johann Sebastian Bach back in his day would probably not get too many likes on his social media.

What’s the one thing in the music industry we’re not talking about which you think we should be?

Mental health among musicians who are struggling with paying student loans. Better preparing students for life after school, teaching them useful skills such as networking, booking concerts, educating general public. Working on stage presence and ability to engage audience.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Steady progress

What is your present state of mind?

Always optimistic

Born in Novosibirsk, Russia and raised in Israel. Classical guitarist Yuri Liberzon has been recognized for his impressive technical ability and musicality. Based on his achievements in the music field United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has granted Yuri Liberzon ‘Alien of Extraordinary Ability’ United States Permanent Residency.

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