Band Director Oded Lev-Ari Nominated for Grammy

Taylor Roslyn ‘21

Over the past few years, students in the Ramaz Band have had the opportunity not just to dream of becoming stars, but to play with one too. Oded Lev-Ari, the band’s faculty advisor, was nominated for the most prestigious award in music—a Grammy. Oded joined the Ramaz music department 15 years ago and has led dozens of successful Ramaz Band performances at school-wide events such as the Annual Dinner and Celebration of the Arts. In his free time, Oded has been up to more than just playing background piano for Ramaz school musicals. Along with his longtime musical partner Anat Cohen, Oded composed works within the now-Grammy-nominated album “Triple Helix.” The album includes compositions by Oded and Anat, as well as Astor Piazzola and other composers. 

Oded and Anat began playing together at Israel’s Thelma Yelin High School for the Arts, a specialized school, where Anat played saxophone (along with a few other instruments) and Oded played piano. And ever since high school, they have not stopped working together. Oded went on to serve in the Israeli Defense Force Orchestra after high school and is a recipient of the America Israel Cultural Fund scholarship. He has written more than 500 arrangements and compositions for chamber and wind ensembles, big band and symphony orchestra, as well as various jazz combos. In 2018, Carnegie Hall offered Oded the opportunity to write a piece for Anat to play. Oded took the offer and wrote a concerto for clarinet and ensemble and named it “Triple Helix.” Oded decided to name the full album “Triple Helix” in honor of the original piece he wrote.

According to Oded, most artists present background with their music to inform the listener what inspired the composer to write the piece. But Oded chose otherwise: “I am not inspired by one single event, as everything inspires me to write music,” said Oded. “It is my job to create, so I can’t just wait for inspiration to do so. The actual writing is what inspires me, so when I start, I cannot stop.” Oded further noted that he does not want to have a say in how his music evokes emotion in a given listener. He does not want to provide a story with which to associate the piece; he wants each individual listener to associate the piece with his or her own stories. 

When the Oded he found out that his album “Triple Helix” was nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Large Ensemble Jazz Album” category earlier this year, he was overjoyed. “Words cannot express how happy I was when I heard the big news,” said Oded. “I never expected my piece to be chosen out of the hundreds [competitive for the nomination.]” His album is now one of five in the running for the award, and the final ceremony is on January 26th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. Tune in to the Grammys this Sunday on CBS News at 8 PM to find out if Oded won the award!

To listen to “Triple Helix” click here: