Contento de Semrik hosted a long series of Israel Prize winners in its television studios with particularly moving stories. Netanel Semrik, the interviewer today at Contento Now’s state-of-the-art digital studios, recalls the moments of change in the lives of the personalities whom the State of Israel crowned as leaders in their respective fields of excellence.
People with incredible personal stories enter the unique portal that is Contento Now’s office into publisher Netanel Semrik’s e-tv studios. They go to the studio, are interviewed in front of the cameras, the lighting and come out with fascinating stories. Some join on a Zoom call or via Video WhatsApp. Today, digital rules the “story” market, also in video and digital studios, and Semrik understands that.
Netanel Semrik, all the experience you gained in the hundreds of TV shows you created, to what extent does it help you today in the new era, or maybe it’s actually going to hurt you?
“An interview is an interview is an interview. In the past, every meeting took place face to face in large studios. Huge teams. Nowadays, the new era allows for infinite flexibility in production when in fact we help each protagonist of a each story set up a mini TV studio and broadcast to us via Zoom – or video from his studio, When then, as always, the story and the charm that remains in the personal interview is the headliner.”
Semrik was lucky to host a long line of Israel Prize winners who chose to tell their personal stories precisely in the studio of Contento de Semrik, a company that was founded with the fall of the Twins in New York and produced hundreds of television programs. Now he returns to two he remembers well.
We are glad to share this riveting interview that Netanel Semrik conducted with the world renowned, Erez Biton.
Joining us now in Contento Now’s e-tv studio is the writer and poet Erez Biton. Hello Erez.
“Hello and blessings, Netanel.”
Please conjure one moment. The most shocking moment you remember in your entire life.
“I had several such moments. Moments of elation. My wife was about to give birth. There was no clear, clarifying sound at the time, we even thought that a girl would be born. She needed surgical intervention for a cesarean section with a lot of anxiety and fear. I waited outside. After about half an hour later the nurse comes out and says to me: “Mr. Biton, congratulations you have a son. Come touch his head. Here he is in the stroller.” Like out of the blue. before I didn’t know that I was expecting a son. What was expected of me? And suddenly here is the defining moment that creates a lifelong process of an endless encounter with a son that you didn’t even know was in the planning.”
Did you manage to see it on your personal ”imagination board”?
“I touched his head, a warm head, a soft head. I gently and gently ran my fingers over his face. Later I wrote him a song that I called ‘Settlement with a first-born son’, that you will learn to play before my eyes as in familiar fields without the fear of dark dens. I will teach you in return to walk with the darkness like with friends and you will not be sorry my son.”
Did you learn to walk in the dark without regrets?
“The second defining event, in the bad sense, of the term is at the time of my injury at the age of 10 and a half when I was injured by a bomb that was circulating in Lod in the 1950s, years of infiltrators. We found it near the house, we didn’t know it was a bomb and it exploded and at once I had to move into a world of touch, of touch, of hearing, of sensations of a completely different kind.”
Do you remember the last image you saw before the explosion?
“The last picture was a cinema, a Thursday evening, a cultural cinema in the city of Lod, a new cinema. We are ten-year-old children who help to put chairs into the cinema and in return they let us watch the movie for free. Tarzan is amazing, full of movement, full of color, jumping from place to place. The next day, Friday, the day of the accident, I no longer saw and moved to another world. But you rightly asked what the last picture was? Because a lot of pictures accumulated inside me.
“Until the age of 10 you see endlessly. And when you are an energetic child and a barefoot child and a child who climbs trees and walks in the forests and in the orchards of the city of Lod and picks sabers and goes into the cinema and sees a cinema above the tree outside the cinema because the ‘Five Cinema’ in the city of Lod had no roof and was not We have money to enter – all these sights add up. Then I write the song ‘When I was a child of light.’
If you were to choose one moment from your life, the most moving moment in life – what moment would you choose to share with us now?
“This is the concert of my piece at the opening of the Salzburg Festival. It doesn’t mean much in our country because today we are more interested in Mediterranean music and whatever that means, correcting history. My event is the performance of my piece at the opening of the Salzburg Festival, which was about two years ago. The experience of seeing the… – there were not many Jews in the audience – the gentiles standing for a long hour and a half crying and shedding tears.”
Because what happened to them?
“I don’t know that. In art, when the national, not the nationalist, becomes universal, there is something about it. When you and I perceive Tchaikovsky’s music not as those who were born in Moscow but from somewhere else, then Tchaikovsky’s music is universal.
“When Brahms, Beethoven, Bach, Haydn play in Moscow and understand their music there, in their own way, it is universal music. Even to take this thing to an extreme if you take the Chinese, a billion Chinese pianists play Beethoven. What does their pentatonic music have to do with the music that has The unequivocal quasi-made-in-Germany message? But here it is.
“So it became universal and then when that audience picked up the message of non-Israeli music. I want to put a line under the word Israel, not Israeli. It was written in Israel, Jewish music and there is music like this, Jewish music. If they hear something that changes the thing, for us it is a A multi-layered taste, many, many layers, like Agnon’s book, there are many, many layers. If you take this thing and turn it into something that the other person also understands. One because overall I sometimes see myself more as a museum than a gallery. In a gallery you show the pictures of your friends, you come and you buy and you acquire.
“A museum has a completely different purpose, so that’s what it’s about, it was a very big moment in my life when I went out there on the stage and saw the audience and Zubin Mehta said to me: ‘Look, I’ve never seen anything like this’ – it was a very big moment and this big moment continued Thus when the music critic of the New York Times on the front page demanded to bring the piece to the USA and a month later it was at Carnegie Hall.
“These were moments that were supposed to be exciting, but you know I learned to deal with the exciting moments up and down by keeping the middle ground because life goes through sections. You know the anecdote about the clown who sits and cries and you ask him why he is crying? So he says ‘I am resting’ Sometimes I feel like that.”
Speaking of average on the side of those peaks in Salzburg, in Kearney Hall, in the New York Times, give me a moment when you feel like you stopped for a moment on the side of the road to rest and shed a tear?
“Certainly, when my first wife died. It’s not easy.”
To say goodbye?
“Yes, of course, I’ll tell you the key phrase – every meeting is the beginning of a breakup and that’s how it is. Once you learn it, it’s good. There have been many breakups in my life, more than… I don’t say more than meetings because a meeting is in fact, a breakup is Sometimes imaginary. You prepare yourself for some kind of separation that will happen, you create all kinds of antibodies for yourself, you give yourself drugs that stop this thing, it doesn’t always help you know, we live in a virtual world which is the real world, a world of words and a world of sounds. The difference between Sounds and words is very clear. Here in Israel, for example, we cannot live without words, it is a culture of singers, singers in public, singers not in public. You have text, you have opera. The music I studied and was brought up with was music almost without words and if it had Words were words in German. So that’s what I’m saying.”