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Classical 101

Pianist Roman Rabinovich Plays Tchaikovsky in Zanesville Tuesday

A seven-week orchestra concert tour of the U.S. doubtlessly brings with it a slew of ups and downs - literal ones, like airplanes taking off and landing, and metaphorical ones, like broken-down tour buses and cancelled concerts. But for all the larger-than-life drama that could befall a logistically gargantuan undertaking like the Haifa Symphony Orchestra's first-ever American tour, guest pianist Roman Rabinovich says the tour's most significant mishap so far actually came in a small package. "At one concert in Florida, we had a baby crying for about 10 minutes very loudly," Rabinovich said, laughing, "but that’s the only thing I can think of." Rabinovich, the Haifa Symphony Orchestra and conductor Boguslaw Dawidow will give the only Ohio performance on their U.S. tour Tuesday, Feb. 18,  7 pm, at Zanesville's Secrest Auditorium. The concert, presented by the Zanesville Concert Association, marks Rabinovich's return to Ohio, where he earlier performed with the Ashland Symphony Orchestra. Winner of the 2008 Artur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition and a rising star on the international concert scene, Rabinovich will perform Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in Zanesville. It's a work he calls "one of the most gorgeous pieces" in the piano concerto repertoire. "Tchaikovsky is such a master of melody, and the piano writing is very inventive and virtuosic and colorful," Rabinovich said. "The piano part, I feel, is almost like part of the orchestra, and there are so many places when the tune starts in the orchestra and continues in the piano and vice versa." The Tchaikovsky is one of four concertos Rabinovich is performing on this U.S. tour. The intensity of the tour schedule - daily travel by plane and/or bus, almost daily performances - is forcing him to build in plenty of time for stretching and meditating. But Rabinovich says it also is giving him an invaluable opportunity to get to know the Tchaikovsky concerto - and the Haifa Symphony musicians - more deeply. "I’m learning so much," Rabinovich said. "Playing the pieces every night and going deeper into the music and also getting to know the orchestra and working on the details of the music is something that you can really explore when you have so much time together." And over the years, Rabinovich and the Haifa Symphony Orchestra have spent a lot of time together. Rabinovich first performed as soloist with the Haifa Symphony Orchestra years ago, when he was 10 years old. That performance took place shortly before Rabinovich auditioned for legendary conductor Zubin Mehta, whose invitation for Rabinovich to solo with the Israel Philharmonic gave Rabinovich's career a jump start. Since then, Rabinovich has returned frequently to perform with the Haifa Symphony, whose musicians he knows and loves. "I know all the orchestra members, "Rabinovich said "It feels like a family by now." When the musicians' March 16 performance in Stanford, Ca., brings their tour to an end, the Haifa Symphony members will return to Israel, and Rabinovich will head for his home base of New York City. There, he'll continue pursuing his most recent musical fascination - the music of J.S. Bach - which he's been delving into deeply during the last year. "It's the best music ever written," Rabinovich said. "I always loved Bach and I always played Bach, but I wanted to really play a lot of Bach this year. I think it’s just time." Rabinovich's concert schedule in the coming year will take him to major musical venues throughout the U.S., Europe and Israel - and in March 2015 back to Ashland, Ohio. But amid the hustle and bustle of life on the concert circuit and the fierce competition and complex nuances of a concert artist's career, this pianist holds to a pretty simple philosophy: "I love all good music." Pianist Roman Rabinovich, the Haifa Symphony Orchestra and conductor Boguslaw Dawidow perform their only Ohio concert in the Haifa Symphony's first U.S. tour Tuesday, Feb. 18, 7 p.m., at Zanesville's Secrest Auditorium.