KINGSTON, R.I. – July 15, 2021 – Classical guitarist Adam Levin is a veteran of almost a dozen albums, however he nonetheless will get a cost out of listening to his music on the radio.
Tuning in to WFMT-FM out of Chicago, Levin not too long ago caught his latest album, “Music from the Promised Land,” recorded with famend Israeli mandolinist Jacob “Yaki” Reuven because the combo Duo Mantar.
“It all the time makes you smirk,” says Levin, a trainer of classical guitar on the College of Rhode Island and inventive director of the annual URI Guitar Pageant. “When your music flies throughout the worldwide airwaves when you’re simply sitting at dwelling, it’s a terrific feeling figuring out the music is circulating and impacting new audiences.”
The album, launched June 11 by Naxos, is already making waves. The mix of mandolin and guitar reached the highest spot on Billboard’s Conventional Classical Albums chart the week of June 26 and stayed there for 2 weeks. It was not too long ago third on the chart.
“I don’t know the final time a classical guitar or mandolin recording made it to the highest of the charts,” Levin says. “It’s actually a dream. As classical musicians, we don’t actually consider the Billboard charts as being achievable.”
“Music from the Promised Land” showcases Duo Mantar’s dedication to exploring the wealthy number of Israeli music whereas increasing the repertoire obtainable for mandolin and guitar. The 14 tracks on the album vary in type from the diaspora of Babylonian Jewry to European klezmer traditions and Balkan Ladino songs to up to date American influences. (Duo Mantar will play alternatives from the album once they open their tour on the URI Guitar Pageant, Oct. 14-17.)
“What folks will hear is that, just like the folks of Israel, its music is a melting pot of so many influences, cultures, people traditions, and compositional traditions. There’s one thing for everybody,” Levin says. “What I would like folks to stroll away with, past having fun with the richness of this Israeli repertoire, is an open-mindedness and a curiosity for these musical and cultural kinds and traditions which can be much less acquainted. This album pushes audiences past their consolation zone and into a brand new musical horizon.”
Duo Mantar has been enjoying collectively since 2017, and Levin, a local of Chicago’s North Shore who lives in Ashland, Massachusetts, can thank his father, knowledgeable scientific psychologist and newbie classical guitarist and mandolinist. His father despatched him a YouTube video of Reuven performing a solo violin piece (“Obsession” by Eugene Ysaye) that he had transcribed for mandolin. Levin tried the identical factor, however for guitar.
“I used to be simply blown away,” Levin says.
Out of the blue, Levin emailed Reuven on July 4, 2017. Reuven wrote again and mentioned he was coincidentally on the lookout for a classical guitarist to file two tasks, one in all which was the Israeli music challenge. Levin acquired on a aircraft to Spain, the place Reuven lives along with his spouse.
“We had been instantly mates. We sat down, plucked our two devices and realized there was this profound musical chemistry between the 2 of us,” says Levin. “A couple of minutes of follow, days of dwelling it up in southern Spain, and there you may have it, Duo Mantar is born.”
Over the past 4 years, the duo has commissioned unique works and uncovered and organized present compositions to create a portrait of Israeli music over the past 75 years. The primary fruit of their work is “Music from the Promised Land,” which options works by such main Israeli composers as Marc Lavry, Paul Ben-Haim, Jan Freidlin, Yehezkel Braun, Josef Bardanashvili, Oren Lok, and Ittai Rosenbaum. Among the many songs are energetic conventional Jewish dance tunes, a lush sonata by Braun that explores the harp-like sound created by mixing guitar and mandolin, and an brisk work by Rosenbaum that appears like a wedding of Bach and jazz.
“The Reminiscences,” an avant-garde work by Bardanashvili, the daddy of contemporary Israeli composition, is the album’s deepest work, says Levin. “There’s dialogue between the 2 devices that explores fragments of reminiscences from the previous,” he says. “It’s a powerhouse work, each musically and technically.”
Amongst Freidlin’s two songs is “Oriental Pantomime,” which Levin and Reuven commissioned for the album. “You’ll be able to hear references to Bartok,” he says. “It’s a enjoyable piece, at occasions even a little bit of a musical circus.”
The album was recorded over 4 days in October 2019 in Newmarket, Canada, underneath the steering of producer, engineer and editor Norbert Kraft. As a substitute of a recording studio, Kraft all the time opts for recording in St. Paul’s Church, the place the church’s acoustics deliver out the perfect of the 2 devices and maximize artistic expression, Levin says.
Earlier than this challenge, a lot of the Israeli repertoire was unknown to Levin. As a classical musician, he’s spent virtually his profession performing works by the legendary composers – from the Spanish greats like Joaquín Rodrigo and William Walton to the works of Bach and Scarlatti. The Naxos recording challenge with Reuven was a gateway to his Jewish heritage.
“This album allowed us to discover our musical friendship in addition to actually dig deep and uncover what it means to be Israeli, what it means to be Jewish, what it means to be musicians performing music that faucets into our heritage, our roots,” he says.
Duo Mantar is only one of many tasks Levin has within the works. A product of the New England Conservatory (M.M in guitar efficiency, 2008) and a pupil of American guitar virtuoso Eliot Fisk, Levin has carried out across the U.S. and throughout 4 continents, whereas being honored as a Fulbright Scholar and successful quite a few awards.
Levin, who studied in Spain as a Fulbright Scholar, has commissioned greater than three dozen chamber and solo compositions by famous Spanish composers for a four-volume assortment, “21st Century Spanish Guitar.” The ultimate quantity of the 13-year challenge shall be launched by Frameworks Report Label on Aug. 20. It will likely be Levin’s 12th album.
“This has been a labor of affection, and the composers and myself are excited to share this new music,” he says. “Quantity 4 features a blockbuster new concerto with orchestra by Eduardo Morales-Caso and 4 solo works by three generations of Spanish composers, together with José Luis Turina, the grandson of Joaquín Turina, one of many forefathers of Spanish music from the late 19th and 20th centuries, in addition to works by Salvador Brotons, Jorge Muñiz and Leonardo Balada.”
Levin additionally not too long ago accomplished an all-Spanish album with the Nice Necks Guitar Trio and is engaged on a challenge of recent Brazilian music with violinist William Knuth, as Duo Sonidos. He’s additionally constructing a music college in Mexico Metropolis as a part of the bigger programming provided by the non-profit group he co-founded, Kithara Venture, which is devoted to enhancing the lives of youngsters and youth via the classical guitar. (Be taught extra at www.kitharaproject.org.)
“All these recording tasks could be in useless until I can encourage the following technology of younger guitarists to play this repertoire,” he says. “I really like enjoying this music. But when it’s going to stay on, it should stay on within the fingers of guitarists, close to and much. This may solely serve to exponentially enhance the variety of viewers members that can have the chance to take pleasure in this music.”