Itay Talgam Profile

A leading light of the contemporary Israeli music scene, Itay Talgam is not only one of the world’s most highly regarded conductors; the models for organizational behavior and inspired leadership he has found within the orchestra are applicable to team building, creativity and innovation in any organization.

Talgam began his international conducting career at the invitation of Leonard Bernstein, sharing a podium with him at a special concert with the Orchestra de Paris. Since then he has conducted many of Europe’s most prestigious orchestras, being the first Israeli conductor to perform with the St Petersburg Philharmonic and at the Leipzig Opera House. He has conducted orchestras across the United States, and also led and recorded all of Israel’s major orchestras, including the Israeli Philharmonic, the New Israeli Opera, the Jerusalem Symphony and the Israel Chamber Orchestra amongst many others.

Recipient of an Arts Diploma in conducting from the Jerusalem Rubin Academy as well as a cum laude degree in General Philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Talgam has taught at the Rubin Academy, Tel Aviv University and the Jerusalem Academy for Music and Dance. He is a fellow of the Mantle School for Educational Leadership in Jerusalem and of the Israeli National Council for the Arts (music section). His unique “Maestro” leadership programs have assisted many thousands.

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    Conductor Itay Talgam is one of the leading figures in the Israeli music scene. Talgam is a champion of contemporary music, and in particular music of contemporary Israeli composers. His outstanding achievements were acknowledged by audiences, critics, as well as by Israel’s composers Association, which in 1994 awarded him an honorary prize for his personal contribution in performing and promoting Israeli music.

    As Music Director of the Tel-Aviv Symphony Orchestra and of Musica Nova Consort Talgam won the prestigious prize for “Best performance of the year” for Israeli orchestral music, awarded by the National Council for the Arts.

    Talgam finds metaphors for organizational behavior — and models for inspired leadership — within the workings of the symphony orchestra. Imagining music as a model for all spheres of human creativity, from the classroom to the boardroom, Talgam created the Maestro Program of seminars and workshops.

    Talgam′s workshops aim to help everyday people develop a musician′s sense of collaboration, and a conductor′s sense of leadership: that inner sense of being intuitively, even subconsciously connected to your fellow players, giving what they need and getting what you need. It′s this art of listening and reacting in the moment that makes for a swinging jazz combo, a sublime string quartet, a brilliant orchestra — and great teams at work.

    Talgam’s International Debut took place in 1987, when he was chosen by Leonard Bernstein to perform in a special concert with the Orchestre de Paris, the great Maestro himself conducting the second half of the same concert. Since that highly successful performance, Talgam conducted many orchestras in Europe – being the first Israeli conductor to perform with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and with the Leipzig Opera house. He also performed in the United States, and, naturally, conducted and recorded many times with all of Israel’s major orchestras, including the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the New Israeli Opera, Jerusalem Symphony, Israel Chamber Orchestra, etc.

    A native of Tel-Aviv, Itay Talgam received his Artist Diploma in conducting from the Jerusalem Rubin Academy (under Prof. Mendy Rodan) in 1987, Winning scholarships from the America-Israel cultural foundation. He than studied in the Accademia Chigiana, Siena, with Maestri Franco Ferrara and Guenady Rozhdestvensky and in Tanglewood, USA, under Maestri Seiji Osawa, Leon Fleisher and Lenny Bernstein. He also studied General Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, winning his degree “Cum Laude.”

    Itay Talgam has taught orchestral conducting at the Rubin Academy for music, Tel-Aviv University, and the Academy for Music and Dance in Jerusalem.In addition to his current conducting activities, he is intensely involved in many educational projects, both as a fellow of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership in Jerusalem, and as the creator of the unique ‘Maestro’ leadership programs. He is also a member of the Israeli National Council for the Arts music section.

    Itay Talgam is permanent guest conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Transilvania, Cluj (Klausenburg).

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Itay Talgam's Speech Descriptions

Itay’s unique Maestro at Work programs take the collaborative lessons of orchestral performance and apply them to the workplace. Examining different aspects of music making, he provides stimulating insights into leadership, teamwork, creativity, mentoring and personal development.

The Maestro workshops “conduct” all participants, offering them stimulating challenges and inviting them to collaborate with others to produce results. Those taking part are invited to consider their own roles as conductors and to ask if they are getting the most from their own “orchestra”.

On completion of the Maestro program, leaders will be better able to communicate and have more empathy with those whom they lead; those who follow will understand their role in assisting the leadership and that business harmony is a two-way street. The program can be customized for relevance to seniors, managers and to teams.

MAESTRO AT WORK Programs Overview

Why is music a successful metaphor for business?
Making music, in whatever culture and context, concerns such issues as communication, listening, rhythm, technique, preparation, improvisation and interpretation, rehearsal and performance. Concerts all over the world bring before us a great variety of performing bodies: large and complex symphony orchestras, intimate chamber music ensembles and jazz groups. Examining the diversity of organizational cultures raise questions concerning collaboration in general, including the roles (or the lack of them) of conductors, composers, soloists and accompanists. Different aspects of music making can provide stimulating insights into familiar management concerns such as leadership, teamwork, creativity, mentorship and personal development.

A new vocabulary, self-exemplifying process, fun
As well as being an excellent metaphor, music also provides an exciting new vocabulary for addressing these concerns. Entertaining in itself, and conceived as remote from the concrete tensions of the participant’s work environment, it provides a ‘safe’, non-threatening atmosphere for discussion and self-reflection.

In the process of learning, the “Maestro” facilitator-conductor orchestrates the individual voices and ‘rehearses’ with the participants, maintaining constant dialog, maximum sharing of ideas and viewpoints, in a way that calls for and encourages active participation. Thus the process is self-exemplifying of its messages.

Where do we fit in?
“Maestro” programs are designed to support a wide range of applications for corporate and conference groups:

  • Team building, interdependence, whole-system thinking
  • Culture change initiatives
  • Leadership development
  • Executive meetings and board retreats
  • Celebration of organizational milestones
  • Promoting creativity and innovation

What are the business/music themes involved?
All “Maestro” workshops present stimulating challenges for the participants, dealing with such themes as teamwork, rapid skill acquisition, listening, energy and synergy, managing resources, memory, multiple roles, and presentation skills.

In our workshops, video clips that trigger discussion and various participatory exercises are designed to enable the participants to have a fresh look at themselves and their working environments. We discuss challenging issues as self-discipline, skill & technique, acquiring of new skills, passion through self-actualization, communication, self-assessment and personal development, embracing change, training & performing.

Managers participating in a “Maestro” workshop will be encouraged re-examine their own images as ‘conductors’, while acquiring new insights into the workings of large and small musical ensembles. They will do so using new vocabulary for addressing leadership issues such as inspiration and vision communication, empowerment, preparation, persuasion, energy, interpretation and improvisation, working with minimal structures, promoting change, working with diversity, Rotational leadership, rehearsal vs. performance and mentorship.

What could your organization expect from “Maestro”?
Since “Maestro program” workshops were first delivered in 1996, we have been collecting feedback from our clients. Our intention was to form a framework of “realistic expectations”, so that both our clients and ourselves can estimate the success of the workshop/lecture – not in terms of immediate audience satisfaction – which is always very high – but rather in its effect on attitudes and behaviors at the work place.

The participating managers can be expected to feel motivated and empowered as to their abilities to use their full range of communicating skills, and more secure in their ability to choose and make the best use of a certain leadership style. They also better understand the possibility of developing a range of managerial behaviors that are compatible with their style, as well as its limitations.

Managers are able to look at the culture of the organization as a whole, an at the way their on style of management, and those of their colleagues, work within the framework of that particular culture. Managers can also be expected to more aware of diversity as an asset of the organization, and of their own performance as trainers, mentors and motivators.

All participants can be expected to have an enhanced ability to examine themselves as team members, and new appreciation of the importance of supportive and collaborative behaviors.

When whole units of business organizations go through “maestro” training, the new ‘musical’ vocabulary becomes available, and serves as a ‘softer’ medium of communication – releasing tension and reducing alienation from the workplace, and promoting a feeling of ‘fun’ and satisfaction.

Suggested Program Customizations:

  • MAESTRO for Teams: Becoming An Ensemble Member

Itay Talgam on Speaking

I want [my audiences] to have improved communication within themselves and with their colleagues – new perspectives about their leadership styles and open communication.

SPEAKING.COM: What do you want people to learn / take away from your presentations?

ITAY:I want them to have improved communication within themselves and with their colleagues – new perspectives about their leadership styles and open communication. Not a judgmental tool of self-torturing – rather the opposite: to find new, optimistic ways of seeing yourself and your organization, and of where you may choose to lead together. 

SPEAKING.COM: Have you had any particularly memorable speaking engagements / unusual situations arise while on the road?

ITAY: Many! I tend to fall in love quite easily when people are responsive, caring, empathic, listening. I’m lucky to meet many audiences that are willing to assume that nature.

SPEAKING.COM: What types of audiences would most benefit from your message?

ITAY: Everyone who is willing and able to disassociate themselves from being the very important know-it-alls that other people expect them to be in their everyday leadership or managerial roles… I need them to be the opposite: ignorant by choice.

SPEAKING.COM: What inspired you to become a speaker?

ITAY: The mutual feeling of gratitude that a good conversation brings with it… that is very rewarding.

SPEAKING.COM: Which of your keynote speeches do you enjoy the most and why?

ITAY: The more I am able to let go and become a ‘keynote listener’, the better the session is. That way I am still responsible for facilitating the dialogue, but I am no longer controlling it – it has a flow of its own, with everyone in the room having ownership and control in equal measure. That for me is successful modeling of leadership and collaboration at their best. Exclusive Interview with Itay Talgam
Itay Talgam: Listening and Creative Leadership
In this interview, Itay Talgam discusses:
  • Why music is a successful metaphor for business.
  • Advice on fostering teamwork.
  • How being a conductor relates to leadership.
  • Some of the greatest challenges leaders face today.
Read the Full Interview

"If you become a listener you help create the same quality of listening in other people."
- Itay Talgam

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