Concert piano soloist, recording artist, chamber collaborator, recitalist, and conductor known worldwide…
Meet Benjamin Hochman, who will soon be performing in Seattle as part of The Seattle Series, along with cellist Efe Baltacigil, violinist Zachary Depue, and Seattle Symphony Concertmaster Noah Geller.
Here Picture this Post (PTP) talks with Benjamin (BH) about his musical journey and how the health challenges he has overcome have enriched his musical repertoire.
(PTP) You discovered a love for music in your teenage years in Jerusalem. Can you tell us more about your personal journey to become a musician?
(BH) I began playing music at age 5 and have devoted my life to it. From my early experiences in Israel, through my student years in Philadelphia and New York, over two decades playing around the world, to my new musical and artistic experiences in the last few years in Berlin- it is a richly rewarding, never-ending journey.
Where is home now?
I’ve been living in Berlin since 2020.
I was born and raised in Jerusalem, where I lived until I was 17, that always remains home. And having lived in New York for many years, NYC is very familiar, therefore also a kind of home.
You developed, and have since recovered, from an auto-immune disease that led you to pursue your long-standing interest in conducting. How has this period of your life affected your current career and performance style?
Fortunately, I had a 100% recovery. That difficult period also allowed me to pursue new musical avenues. I learned many new things and feel enriched by it. I am so happy to be playing and conducting, having a wider perspective and experience. Most importantly, I’m grateful to be making music and have learned not to ever take it for granted.
How has your experiences in different roles— chamber musician, soloist and conductor— affected your insights into the music you are performing or the performing experience itself?
Each role has its unique challenges, and I savor them. But in my experience, I find that they resonate with each other, one learns from all directions. I love playing and I love conducting and the journey to communicate the music’s essence is the same.
Are you still conducting?
Absolutely! This week I’m conducting a remarkable work by the 97-year old Hungarian composer Kurtág, with the Bard Contemporary Ensemble. It’s titled The Messages of the Late R. V. Troussova and tells a woman’s darkly tragic love story. I also recently conducted the Bridgeport Symphony in a program of Schumann’s 2nd Symphony, Beethoven First Piano Concerto (play/direct) and a work for strings by Coleridge Taylor Perkinson.
Please share with Picture This Post readers your feelings about the pieces you will be performing at the upcoming Seattle Series.
I’m really looking forward to playing with some dear friends- Efe, Zack and I studied together at Curtis in Philadelphia quite a few years ago! Noah and I met a bit later but I instantly felt a kinship with him as well.
It will be great fun to play Haydn’s inventive and brilliant trio and Faure’s passionate and exhilarating Piano Quartet. I’m also really looking forward to playing Gilad Cohen’s Circling Time for piano. Gilad is an excellent composer with a truly original voice. I commissioned this piece from him a few years ago and am thrilled to play it again.
What excites you about coming to Seattle and participating in the second season of The Seattle Series?
I’ve been coming to Seattle since 2005, when I played a Beethoven Concerto with the Seattle Symphony. I’ve played in Seattle many times since then. I always love being there, especially because I have such wonderful friends and colleagues. I am thrilled to be a part of The Seattle Series and am looking forward to sharing our music with the audience.
If you aren’t performing or rehearsing— what are your other main interests that you pursue?
I love to read, run, cook, be in nature, watch movies, and spend time with loved ones.
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Efe Baltacigil, Zachary DePue, and Benjamin Hochman, joined by Noah Geller
The Seattle Series: Efe Baltacigil, Zachary DePue, and Benjamin Hochman, joined by Noah Geller
March 24, 2023, 7:30 pm