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Bravo! For Zukerman

Staff Reports

When Eugenia Zukerman, artistic director for the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, was thirteen she was like any other teenager, a strong willed, opinionated, little devil.Zukerman, who is now the author of multiple books, the arts correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning and a world-class flutist has become quite an angel in Vail.As the festival wraps up this week, Zukerman took some time to recall a story that shaped the discipline it has taken her to become one of the most recognized presences in the classical music world both on and off the stage.Zuckerman’s father played the flute and expected his daughter to do the same.”I said, ‘that’s stupid,’ like a typical teenager,” Zukerman says. Her father went on to read her the riot act and told her that playing the flute was not a choice.He told her that she had a talent and that, “when you have a gift like that you have an obligation.” The young Zukerman, still refusing to practice, was told to go upstairs and think about it.”I went up to the attic with the thought that I am NEVER coming down,” she says, “but, unfortunately I got hungry and went downstairs for dinner.”At the dinner table she heard the sounds of a French orchestra playing Gymnopedie, by Eric Satie, on the radio.There they were a father and daughter in stalemate. No one said a word throughout dinner but she says the music, “hit her deep in her soul.” After the meal Zukerman found herself practicing the flute in her room.That was when her discipline and love for process kicked in. Her father’s favorite disciplinary saying, “apply your ass to the chair,” has been with her ever since.”That taught me a lesson about obligation and responsibility,” she says.To Zukerman process has always been more important than the final result of a book hitting the shelves or a concerto’s notes ringing into the air. “If you are going to have a long lasting artistic career you have to be in love with the process,” she says.Now, whether it’s playing with chamber music ensembles in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East or meeting with acts like Los Camperos Di Nati Cano and Claire Bloom (both acts she invited to Vail’s Bravo! festival) she enjoys the process found behind her work. Perhaps it’s her life-long discipline that makes her able to interview a contemporary music group like Eighth Blackbird for CBS Sunday Morning and that night put a few hours into writing, her latest novel, “In My Mother’s Closeta collection of Memories,” which is due for release April, 2003.If there’s one thing about Zukerman that stands out it’s her ability to achieve on a high-level. Her connections in the different parts of her multi-faceted life come together especially well as artistic director for a festival like Bravo!Zukerman’s contacts have paid off locally as Bravo! audiences can look forward to an unprecedented three-year residency with the New York Philharmonic beginning in summer ’03. “Any artistic director brings with them the people they know,” Zukerman says. “It is lucky that I do have the back ground of television work and that is helpful.”Helpful may be the understatement of the year. Zukerman’s Rolodex is packed with names from the directors of every major musical act to actors as well-known as Tom Hanks who is a personal friend of Zukerman and her husband who is a David Seltzer, who is a Hollywood film director.Her notoriety in the publishing world may have also helped land theBravo! festival on the front page of The New York Times, Arts and Leisure section a few weeks ago.Besides being successful and having an enviable entourage of connections, Zukerman is an inspiration to her two daughters, both of who are artistically gifted. The older daughter, Arianna is a soprano singer while the younger, Natalia, is a pop singer and painter. Eugenia has a way of inspiring others as well as her two daughters.Zukerman doesn’t tell others how to live. She’s shows them how discipline can create an amazing and creative life.She admits that the “super-woman” mentality, that fuels her efforts, comes with a price. “I’m from a generation, that grew up in the ’60s, and was told ‘you’re going to have babies, you’re going to have a career, you’re going to do it all,'” she says.”But, trying to juggle everything means there are certain things you don’t do, like go on vacation, get your nails done and hang out with friends. But with a life like mine, in the arts, you love your life because you love your work.”She says the next generation has been lied to when they are told they can have anything they want.”You can have anything you want,” she says, “but, what they are not telling you is that you can only have it if you are willing to work for it.””Music is at the center of daily life,” she says. “If I have two hours I’m going to do that thing, not make popcorn and watch TV. You have to do the work.”Catch Zukerman at work with her flute, 6:30 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 4, at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek at one of the final Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival events of the season. Call 845-TIXS for tickets and information.


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