photo: Yanai Yechiel
"his sovereign stunning musicality and technique achieves an exemplary recording of the highest class."
- STEREO MAGAZINE
Hailed by the New York Times as "an attractive, engaging presence on stage," violist Ori Kam has performed as soloist on some of the world's premier stages. After his debut at the age of 16 with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Zubin Mehta, he was immediately re-engaged. Since then, he has performed with virtually every orchestra in Israel, the National Symphony at the in Washington DC, the New Jersey Symphony, the Bronxville Symphony, the Manhattan Philharmonia, and Sinfonia Varsovia.
Mr. Kam is a frequent recitalist and has performed extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Israel. His recital appearance at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital hall received reviews such as "(Kam is) a rare viola soloist," and "Mr. Kam's playing (was) at once mature and youthfully exuberant."
As an avid performer of chamber music, Mr. Kam is the violist of the Jerusalem String Quartet. He founded the Israel Chamber Music Society and was the violist of the Naumburg award winning Whitman String Quartet. He also founded the Kam-Porat Trio with His sister Sharon, and pianist Matan Porat. Independently, he has appeared alongside artists such as Isaac Stern, Daniel Barenboim, Andras Schiff, Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman. He has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and was guest artist in numerous festivals including Verbier, Tangelwood, Aspen, Santa-Fe, Schleswig-Holstein, La Jolla, the Schubertiade, and the Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival to name a few.
"I have heard many young viola players recently, and I am convinced that none is as extravagantly, naturally gifted as Ori Kam. He is already a great player, with a distinctive dark full sound, and an equally distinctive big personality!"
- SIR SIMON RATTLE
Mr. Kam was born to Israeli Parents in La Jolla, CA in 1975, and grew up in Israel. He started his musical Education at the age of 6, and began playing the viola at 15. In Israel, he studied with Renowned Teacher Chaim Taub, and between 1994 and 1997, studied with Pinchas Zukerman and Patinka Kopec at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. Later, he concluded his studies with Wilfried Strehle at the University for the arts in Berlin. Between 2004 and 2006 he was a member of the Berliner Philharmoniker. Mr. Kam has been the winner of several awards and prizes including The Swiss Prize at the Geneva Int'l Music Competition, The "Pagannini" Prize in the Int'l Lionel Tertis Competition, and in '95 was the winner of the concerto competition at the Manhattan School of Music. Last season he was awarded the S&R Washington Award grand prize. From 1990 to 2000, he has been a recipient of scholarships from the America-Israel Culture Foundation. Since 2009 he holds a professor of viola position at the University of Geneva.
In 2007, He released his first commercial recording under the "Berlin Classics" label of the Bruch Double concerto for viola and clarinet, which he recorded with his sister Sharon. A CD of the 12 Telemann Fantasies for solo viola followed in 2010 on the same label. His latest release was an album with the Kam-Porat trio on Orefeo (2019), and can also be heard on Deutsche Gramophone, Decca and Naxos Labels. The Jerusalem Quartet records regularly for Harmonia Mundi.
Hiroshi Iizuka in his workshop in Pennsylvania
The first time I encountered one of the violas of Hiroshi Iizuka (those are 2 'i's) was at the age of 10, when my mother and I met with Michael Tree - the violist of the Guarneri Quartet. Since then I found out that so many violists, whos playing I love, play on his instruments. One of the problems of building a viola, is that the relationship between it's size and range is usually not correct, and therefore the viola is often weak compared to a violin or a cello. If one were to build a viola sized based on it's relative range between a violin and a cello, it would be too big to play. In fact, many of the most famous violas built in the 16th century (by Gaspar de Salo for example) were built so large, that violin makers in the 19th century trimmed them down to a manegable size, and often destroyed their sound. Hiroshi has been experimenting with violas of unorthodox shapes for many years, and has come up with a few different models that maximize the viola's body size, without making the instrument difficult to play. He is originally from Japan, and has been working outside Philadelphia for a few decades now. When I moved to Berlin and studied with Wilfried Strehle, I fell in love with his Iizuka viola. The next time I was in Phladelphia, I visited Hiroshi, and asked him to build another one exacly like Wifried's. 2 years later, I was ecstatic to discover that Hiroshi has built one of his best violas in my opinion, and it was all mine.