"I have no doubt that arts and music can form a bridge between cultures, religions, gender and age."

Gal Maestro is an 24 years old Israeli Double bass player . Gal graduated from "Telma-Yellin" High School of the Performing Arts, where she majored in classical music. Today she plays in various ensembles such as the "Israeli Andalusian Orchestra", "Neta Elkayam" group, pop and country ensembles, theater and more. She was here to perform at the International Guitar Festival 2016 .

Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up, what were your childhood like and what music influenced you?

I grew up in a small village between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, which is called Karmey-Yosef. 
I have two older sisters (Maya-39, Anat-36) and an older brother (Shai-29), so I’m the youngest child in the family.

Thanks to my parents encouragement for the arts, I started playing classical piano when I was 7 years old. My older brother played classical music and jazz piano since I can remember myself, so as a child I was exposed a lot to both genders - Classical and Jazz. 

When did you decide you wanted to be a musician? At what point did you decide to get serious about a career in music?

Music was always a part of my life, whether from my friends or family I was always surrounded by music. During my high school years I decided to play the electric bass in order to be able to integrate into different styles of music rather than Classical music. This, along with my long time fantasy to study at The Thelma-Yellin High School of Performing Arts, stimulated me to learn this new instrument that was also very needed at this school. And so I did. 

However, at the end of the first year in school, I fell in love with the Upright Bass and began playing it as my main instrument. My years at school were enriching, exciting and unique, but also demanding, stressful and even frightening in certain ways. After graduating, I felt frustrated and insecure that I decided to quit the music world and search for a different direction. 

I joined the Israeli Army, as was my obligation as an Israeli 18 years old citizen and I found myself in an atmosphere that was completely different than my former musical way of life. I left my Double Bass aside. 

During my army service, I received a call from an elderly man that told me that his band, the Mandolin Orchestra wanted to contribute a concert to the soldiers. I don’t know why, but I was very intrigued and drawn finding out more about them. I discovered an orchestra compiled by the most amazing elderly people, all ranging between 60 to 80 years old, that have been playing music together for over 50 years. I was totally amazed by the orchestra and by the man’s love and passion towards music and to his group. Without any pre-meditated decision, I began playing with them on a weekly base.

Excited and exhilarated by music once again, I found myself frequently at the end of my days in my army day job, leaving the office, changing my uniform and pick up my bass and playing.

I think that my choice to be a professional musician may be due to the amazing people in the Mandolin Orchestra and the amazing conductor that we had there. They exposed me to a different way of looking at the music world, that I hadn't been able to understand before, when I was experiencing the competitive nature of musicians throughout my high school years in art school. 
I finished my army service two years ago, and ever since, music is my true love and profession for me. 

Who do you see as instrumental in your development as an artist?

As I mentioned before, being exposed to my brothers music and his guidance has been the largest influence for me. In addition, the experience with the elderly musicians in the Mandolin Orchestra and their Maestro Rami Bar David, helped me return to the music life with a different perspective and was a major step for me both mentally and emotionally. 

Your first love was jazz, but you eventually started to learn classical music. Why was it so?

As I mentioned before, Since I was a child, I was exposed to both classical music and jazz and I always felt greatly connected to both.

Today, I listen to and play a wide variety of musical styles, while constantly exploring my direction and my own way.

Do you think the music arena is a place where women can be empowered to affect culture and politics?

As a woman, I feel that my music and the way that I play the bass is different than men's. This difference is both an advantage and a disadvantage. However, I try not to position myself in the definition of status and gender and just play my music and be loyal to myself. I believe that every woman that is truly honest with herself and to her way of playing and performing can develop and progress exactly as men can.

What is your vision of what music can do in this age of turmoil? 

Do you think art, music and musicians can play a role in contributing to the improvement of relations between countries?
I have no doubt that arts and music can form a bridge between cultures, religions, gender and age.
Music is a language that we have in common, no matter what we believe in. 
I see it every time that I play with musicians from all over the world. There is no need to talk and to be prepared. It is just there. 

How was your experience performing at the IIGF?

For me, especially as Israeli, India, Kolkata and the amazing IIGF were an eye opener. 
I was hosted for almost one month at Pendit Debashish Bhattacharya Ji and Trypty Batacharya Ji, the head producers of the festival.

During the amazing time at their house, I was exposed to the importance of music education from age zero and throughout life. The values that children acquire by learning music, such as listening to each other, sharing, containing, supporting, creating and stating your o truth with humor and compassion are priceless. 

The political situation in Israel and in the entire world is getting out of hand. Young children on both sides are beginning to take part in this bloody war, grabbing knives and committing terror attacks. 
I am sure that if these children had been given the musical education and the values as represented at the IIGF, they would have never chosen a knife over a violin. 

What advice would you give to young girls who want a career in music?

I would advise young girls and boys that are interested in living a life of music to listen to their feelings and to what they are attracted. 

I would recommend that they proceed to make music as their profession only when they feel that they are motivated from the love of music and not from the need to impress others. When you become confident about your love of music, the hardships of persistence will come naturally. 

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