B’nai Br’ith International

Inna Faliks and Bar Avni: Top Jewish Musicians in the Spotlight

March 26, 2024

As a piano virtuoso, educator and highly regarded author, Inna Faliks’ Jewish heritage is an integral component of her artistic persona, in all its aspects. Dazzling audiences during her recitals, guest appearances with noted orchestras, and recordings, Faliks is also known for her concert series which feature repertory by Jewish composers including Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn, George Gershwin and Arnold Schoenberg, These concerts shine the light on innovative contemporary works, some of which include the spoken word, that pay homage to Jewish legacy, history and tradition.

On March 10, during a concert with the Inscape Chamber Orchestra at Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art, Faliks premiered the three-movement “Lilith,” a concerto for orchestra and piano soloist written especially for her by Brazilian American composer Clarice Assad. A musical portrait of Adam’s first wife, of myth and legend, whose licentious and transgressive behavior resulted in her banishment from Eden, the music was also a journey, taking listeners on a wild ride as they experienced the mythic demon’s transformation from steamy and exotic temptress to a nearly combustible, destructive purveyor of erotic chaos and unrestrained desire. Underscored with colorful jazz and klezmer motifs, as well as snatches of melodies rooted in traditional Jewish and Arabic folk melodies, “Lilith” was an explosion of sonic energy, whose heroine, or more likely anti-heroine, was made visibly palpable through Faliks’ brilliant technique and interpretive gifts.

Another notable Jewish work performed by Faliks is composed by Lev Zhurbin, a Russian American composer and instrumentalist. “Voices” was jointly commissioned by the Lowell Milken Fund for American Jewish Music at the University of California at Los Angeles, the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, and Faliks herself, to whom the work is dedicated. This tri-part composition begins with “Sirota,” in which a simple, chant-like lament repeated by the pianist introduces a vintage recording of a prayer sung by Gershon Sirota, a widely celebrated Polish cantor and concert singer who died during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Not of this world, the haunting sound of his voice evokes a lost time and place, one of the life and culture that flourished before the Shoah. In essence a collaboration between two artists, one living and one who exists as a memory, “Sirota” is a muted expression of grief, an elegy that signifies and distills those emotions which cannot be translated into words.

Faliks, who also teaches at UCLA, joins forces with distinguished poets during her “Music/Words” concerts, performed across the country and broadcast on Chicago’s classical station, WFMT.

Faliks is now celebrating the completion of one of her latest projects. Published in 2023, “Weight in the Fingertips” is a compelling and intimate memoir which traces her musical journey as a child prodigy in her native Odessa and her family’s exodus from the Soviet during the 1980s to her years as a music student in the United States, her relationship to her faith and ethnicity, and her experiences as an emerging artist. Her life continues to be filled with seemingly infinite creativity.

Listen to Falik’s “Sirota” performance here.

Bar Avni

Selected from among 197 contestants from 47 countries, 34-year-old Israeli conductor Bar Avni has attained the coveted title of “La Maestra” as the first prize winner of the eponymous international competition for women conductors. Established in 2019, the contest is sponsored by the Philharmonie de Paris and the Paris Mozart Orchestra, whose young musicians performed the final movement of Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 under Avni’s baton live on the European arts television channel. Judges and observers praised her gestures, expressivity, charm, power and determination.

In addition to the award of €20,000, Avni also received the French Concert halls and Orchestras Prize, the ARTE Prize, the €2,500 Paris Mozart Orchestra Prize, and the European Concert Hall Organization (ECHO) Prize, which was awarded to her by its representatives.

Making guest appearances in Israel, Germany and Austria, Avni is a percussionist who began her studies when she was eight years old. She just completed a three-year term as Chief Conductor of Düsseldorf’s Bayer Philharmonic.

Listen to Bar Avni and the Bayer Philharmonic perform music by Brahms here.

Cheryl Kempler headshotCheryl Kempler is an art and music specialist who works in the B’nai B’rith International Curatorial Office and writes about history and Jewish culture for B’nai B’rith Magazine. To view some of her additional content, click here.





Inna Faliks and Bar Avni: Top Jewish Musicians in the Spotlight


  1. La Campanella, Paganini - Liszt Inna Faliks 4:53
  2. Rzewski "The People United Shall Never Be Defeated" (excerpt, improvised cadenza) Inna Faliks 8:36
  3. Beethoven Eroica Variations Inna Faliks 9:59
  4. Gershwin: Prelude 3 in E-flat Minor Inna Faliks 1:25
  5. Mozart Piano Concerto #20 - II Inna Faliks with Chamber Orchestra of St. Matthews 10:27
  6. Gaspard de la Nuit (1908) : Scarbo - Ravel Inna Faliks 9:07
  7. Sirota by Lev 'Ljova' Zhurbin Inna Faliks 7:45