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Conductor and composer Itai Daniel is the music director of the Ensemble Choral Copernic (ECC) in Paris, France, a position he holds since 2009. He is an active composer, primarily concentrating on vocal compositions around Jewish themes and texts. An avid pedagogue, he also shares his time as a coach for professional singers and teaching piano.
Born in Israel, he started his musical studies with the piano and was the student of notable teachers such as Jonathan Zak, Boris Guslitzer and Victor Drevianko. He has taken advanced studies in harmony with Professor Theodor Holdheim and added the viola as a second instrument at the age of 16. He continued his studies as an orchestra conductor at the Music Academy of Tel Aviv University with Professors Noam Sherif (orchestra) and Avner Itai, (choir) where he obtained a degree magna cum laude. He was part of the university’s special scholarship program as well as winning prizes and scholarships from the Federman Foundation and the Ronely Ricklis Foundation for young conductors.
In 1995 Itai Daniel left Israel to continue his studies in the United-States, first at the Cleveland Institute of Music and then in the prestigious program for young conductors at the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, where he closely worked with maestro James De Priest for two years. During his period in the US he conducted in master classes held by major conductors such as Kurt Masur, Michael Tilson-Thomas, David Zinman, James Conlon and David Robertson and was a private student of maestro Alan Gilbert. He was a fellowship conductor at the Aspen Music Festival and had conducting engagements with several orchestras in Illinois, Florida and Kansas. Always an active pianist, he also worked during this period as pianist and coach for dame Mignon Dunn (of the Metropolitan Opera) at Northwestern University, and for Professor Elsa Charlston at DePaul University. This work was essential to his development as a composer, giving him broad knowledge of the human voice’s capabilities and repertoire.
Drawn all his life towards Europe, Itai Daniel decided in 2004 to settle in Paris and to devote himself to composing. Among his major works for the Jewish tradition are three large cantatas (Machzor Chayim, Shma Koleinu, and B’reshït) and many compositions based on the major Jewish prayers and texts. He conducted Machzor Chayim (“Life’s Cycle”) in 2007 for its world-premiere performance in Paris as well as with the ECC in June 2014 (the piece was published by Transcontinental Music Publications in New-York).
In 2006 Itai Daniel was chosen to be the vocal coach for the newly-founded Académie Lyrique at Vendôme, which trains professional singers and young conductors through productions of the major operas. Adding to that, he was offered in 2010 to lead the choir Choeur de Chambre de la Cité, where he conducted the choir’s concerts and was in charge of its program. In 2011 he organized a special concert which was dedicated entirely to his own compositions where many of the choir members participated.
Since he took the position with the ECC, Itai Daniel has transformed the ensemble to be one of the best amateur groups in Europe. He conducted numerous concerts with the ECC, performing many world-premieres of his own compositions, as well as compositions by prominent Jewish composers such as Lewandowski, Naumbourg, Halevy, Sulzer, Nowakowski, Jonas, and contemporary ones like Kaufmann, Janowski, Robinovitch, Zim, Finkelstein and many others. In December 2012 Itai Daniel took the Ensemble Choral Copernic to sing in the prestigious Louis Lewandowski International Festival in Berlin. In June 2013 the choir was invited to sing at the opening ceremony of the annual Festival of Jewish Cultures in Paris, and only two weeks later, he travelled with the group to perform at the Jewish Music Festival in Alsace, where he conducted, among others, the world-premiere of his unique composition Al Naharot Bavel for two choirs, violin & piano, in collaboration with the choir Les Polyphonies Hébraïques de Strasbourg. In April 2015 he conducted the ECC in a special memorial concert for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, leading a large ensemble in Serge Kaufmann’s heroic, tragic and highly demanding piece Ima, ou La mère dépossédée, as well as being the pianist in his own composition for voice and piano, Shlosha Yeladim. Two months later, he took the ECC to sing in the fourth European Jewish Choral Festival in London and in the summer of 2017 the he went with the ECC to Saint-Petersburg to sing in the sixth one. In June 2018 the ECC will give a concert the Festival of Jewish Cultures in Paris and later in November, at the annual concert of the European Institute of Jewish Music.
Being highly conscious of the cultural and religious divides in France, Itai formed in 2017 an inter-religious project in collaboration with two other choir conductors: Laurence Benezit, a conductor of a Christian choir, and Djibril Talbi, a conductor of a Sufi (Muslim) choir. Together, the group is trying to launch innovative projects which combine and mix the traditional music of the three religions into one musical unity. The project is currently supported by the accounting group Deloitte and is gaining momentum. On May 29th 2018 and during the month of June, the group is to hold two or three concerts, which will include a new choir from the school Jean Jacques Rousseau in Sarcelles, consists of mainly immigrant children of many cultures and religions. Itai will be the conductor of this concert, which will also include three other choirs and an orchestra.
Among Itai’s many compositions are four collections of piano etudes, based on unique concept he has developed. There are grand sonata and a toccata for the piano, “Élégie” for cello and piano, a sonata for flute-solo and a complete children-musical, based on his own, original libretto. Among his Jewish compositions one could also find “Yotzer”, “Haskivenu”, “Shalom Rav”, Kaddish, Oseh Shalom, Adon Olam, two interpretations of “Hevenu Shalom Aleichem”, as well as music for Psalms #96, #130 and #150, three different interpretations of Psalm #137 and many more. He has also composed over twenty Jewish melodies for solo voice, based on prayers and phrases from the holy literature. His composition “Kol Nidrei” is on the commercial CD “Kol Nidre – huit visions.” His Piano Toccata was broadcast live on radio France Musique, his Chanuka Medley and his melody Kiddush L’Shabbat were also published by Transontinental Music Publication (the Medley can also be found on the latest CD by The Lakeside Singers, Chicago, IL). Several other works were played in England, the United States, Germany and South Africa and at the international festival “La Voix Etouffée” in Paris, where his piece Shlosha Yeladim (“Three Children”, dedicated to the children in the Holocaust) was premiered. In 2018 Itai has started collaborating with the European Institute of Jewish Music to publish all his compositions with them. The first two collections of melodies (solo and for choir) have gone on line in and in print in April and can be purchased through the website of the Institute.

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2010 © Itai Daniel. All rights reserved.