Noam Aviel (Courtesy of Noam Aviel)

Noam Aviel, 35, is an orchestra conductor. She has performed with orchestras worldwide and still does. The Israeli native has representation in both the United States and Europe.

Yet for Aviel, there’s something about playing with young musicians on the rise. There’s a freshness that emerges when passionate and talented players meet new material.

“They put their heart and soul into this music. They’re super-excited about it. It makes the music energetic and attractive,” she said.

That belief motivated Aviel to move from Tel Aviv to Center City to take a job as music director of Symphony in C in Collingswood. The South Jersey orchestra is filled with those young players. They are often graduates of elite institutions such as the Curtis Institute of Music and The Juilliard School, and they may be one step away from their big break with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra or another orchestra on that level.

“They get to bloom into the next phase of their careers,” Aviel said.

The Israeli had heard of Symphony in C, but it was the organization that reached out to her. She came for her audition in January, got the job in June and moved to Center City in September. On Jan. 13, the orchestra will perform at the Walter K. Gordon Theater in Camden, the third of five performances in the 2023-’24 season.

“I was of course very honored to be considered,” Aviel said of Symphony in C.

“She brought remarkable passion and energy to the group’s music-making. Beyond her work leading the orchestra, her conversations with the search committee exemplified her genuine interest in the continued growth of Symphony in C’s musicians and the organization as a whole,” said Paul Bryan, the chair of the orchestra’s music director search committee, in an announcement on Symphony in C’s website.

Aviel grew up in Israel and sang as a child. But she didn’t start studying music until her teenage years when she began playing jazz bass. Later, she studied with a classical singer, Bracha Kol, who was the teacher of the sister of one of Aviel’s friends.

“She exposed me to the world of classical music, and I fell in love with it,” Aviel said.

After serving in the Israel Defense Forces, Aviel attended Tel Aviv University, studied voice performance and orchestral conducting and “fell in love with conducting,” she said. Later, she came to the U.S. to continue her studies in orchestral conducting at Illinois State University.

From 2017-’20, Aviel served as assistant and then associate conductor of the San Antonio Symphony. She led the “educational, community and outreach concerts program and acted as the cover conductor throughout the orchestra’s main season,” according to her promotional materials.

But when the pandemic broke out in 2020, Aviel returned to Israel. She remained in her homeland until Symphony in C came calling. Aviel felt it was a position worth moving back to America for, and so she did with her wife. Since moving, the two have enjoyed eating out, going to concerts and “discovering the city,” the conductor said. They also enjoy exploring the suburban downtowns of Collingswood and Haddonfield.

Yet about a month after Aviel arrived, Israel was attacked by Hamas. Her family and friends were all still there. A few days after the attack, Aviel flew to Alabama to perform “The Marriage of Figaro,” a comic opera.

“It was extremely difficult to pull every part of me together,” she said. “I always give everything I have to this while having such an extreme emotional contrast to what was happening in my home country.”

Aviel checks in with her friends and family members regularly, and they are OK. She also has gotten support from colleagues at Symphony in C. Perhaps most importantly, “In difficult times, music has always been there for me,” she said.

“Trying to do something that gives hope to other people, takes them to a better, more optimistic place, or allows them to feel deep and sad emotions, that’s sort of therapy in a way,” she added.

Aviel describes her role at Symphony in C as “a long-term position.”

“Probably at least three years and it could be much more,” she added.

She is going to continue guest conducting with “other professional orchestras.”

“Every orchestra has a very good mix of musicians. Just continue to perform with as many great musicians as possible and with great orchestras. That’s the goal,” she said.

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