Yannick Nézet-Séguin has made the first principal musician appointment of his tenure and it’s a welcome and familiar face: Nitzan Haroz has returned as principal trombone.
“I feel delighted and honored to be joining The Philadelphia Orchestra for the second time in my life. My colleagues here are like family to me and I missed playing with them a lot,” says Haroz, adding, “I couldn't have chosen a more exciting season to come back! I can't wait to play Strauss's Alpine Symphony and Mahler’s Second Symphony again. They are magnificent pieces with fabulous parts for the brass and they don't come around as often unfortunately!”
“It is a wonderful moment to welcome Nitzan Haroz back to The Philadelphia Orchestra,” says Nézet-Séguin. “We already made great music together during my time as music director designate, and I look forward to the return of his outstanding artistry to enrich our unique Philadelphia sound.”
The Israeli-born Haroz was principal trombone with The Philadelphia Orchestra from 1995 to 2012. He spent the past two years in the same position with the Los Angeles Philharmonic; prior to Philadelphia he played with the New York Philharmonic, the Israel Symphony and Opera Orchestra, the Israel Defense Forces Orchestra, and the Jerusalem Symphony.
“Playing with the LA Phil under Maestro Gustavo Dudamel was indeed a treat,” says Haroz. “The orchestra is great, the hall is wonderful. ... I am very fortunate to have experienced playing with three of the leading orchestras in the U.S. as well as the orchestras in Israel. It only expands one’s horizon to play with different orchestras. You are forced to adapt and adjust your style of playing according to the ensemble and that makes you a richer musician. Every orchestra I played with has a unique quality, style, and history. I keep learning from the musicians around me and try to be the best musician I can be.”
A return to Philadelphia was the clear next step on the horizon. In addition to missing his friends and colleagues here, Haroz’s three children are in Philadelphia. First, though, he had to audition.
“Auditioning for my old position was scary,” Haroz says. “It was draining emotionally and there was obviously no guarantee that I would win this job again. I had to compete against some of the finest trombone players and I knew that they had a very good chance—and reason—to win, not any less than me. Playing in front of your colleagues in a situation like this is a humbling experience. You want to impress them, prove yourself, and show that you're good enough. That can be nerve racking!”
Haroz survived the audition by thinking about his kids: “I thought about them before each piece I played. I chose one child to think about before I played and then played the excerpt for them. It helped me focus and conquer the fear.”
Returning to Philadelphia also means resuming his position on the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music. “I had fantastic students there,” says Haroz. “The ties between The Philadelphia Orchestra and Curtis have been strong for years. It is an honor for me to be on their faculty again.”
Haroz’s first concert will be the first concert of the season, September 26, which includes the brass-showcasing Strauss. (“I can’t wait!” he says.) In addition to the Alpine Symphony (Sept. 26-28) and Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (Oct. 30-Nov. 2), Haroz says he’s also looking forward to Mahler’s Fifth Symphony (March 26-28) (“Yes, I love Mahler ...”); Brahms’s Third (Dec. 4-6) and Fourth (Nov. 21 & 22) symphonies; Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 (Feb. 12 & 13); Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony (Nov. 13-15); and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 (Jan. 22 & 23).
“There are so many other fantastic works this season,” he adds. Mostly, though, he’s happy to again be a Philadelphian.
“Playing with The Philadelphia Orchestra is a rare and precious gift,” says Haroz. “Every member of this orchestra is a singer on their instrument. I strive to be one too. It is, in my opinion, one of the reasons why we sound the way we do. I have often felt emotional enough to cry during concerts here, more then anywhere else. It's hard to describe how it feels to be part of this group again, I am very lucky.”
Photo by Linnea Lenkus