Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Apr 26th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Channeling Casals

ae1Israeli musician Amit Peled brings famous cello to Aptos

Amit Peled has many blessings in his life. He’s an accomplished cellist and conductor, and has performed in top venues throughout the world. At 28, he became the youngest professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he and his wife are raising three children. And twice in his life, once when he was a boy and again as a man, his life’s path was altered by a man he never met: the preeminent cellist of the 20th century, the late Pablo Casals.

His musical journey began when he was 10 years old. Up until that point in his life, Peled—who grew up on an Israeli kibbutz (or commual settlement) in the “middle of nowhere” —was mostly interested in playing sports, primarily basketball. But when his dad presented him with a cassette tape of Casals playing the cello, it changed Peled’s life.

“I listened to it every evening,” says Peled. “I fell in love with the cello because of it.” It wasn’t long before he began to play the cello himself.

Peled’s study of music, and the cello in particular, has been nothing short of prolific. He played in the prestigious Israeli Army String Quartet, and later came to the United States to attend Yale University and the New England Conservatory of Music. And eventually, he traveled to Berlin to complete his graduate degree in music.

When Peled returned to the United States with his new German wife to accept a professorship at Johns Hopkins’ Peabody Conservatory of Music, the staff there mistook the 28-year-old Peled for a student. The ever-youthful Peled chuckles as he recalls how he was told to stand in line with the incoming students.

Last July, after 10 years at Johns Hopkins, a mutual friend presented him with the musical proposition of a lifetime: Would he like to meet Pablo Casals’ widow and play the cello for her? Peled quickly accepted and made the short trip from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., where Casals’ widow, Marta Casals Istomin, served as director of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts from 1980-1990.

“I decided to play Bach—Casals was famous for his Bach recordings,” Peled recalls about his meeting with Casals’ widow. After playing for her for a bit, he says she was impressed with his playing and asked him if she could comment on his technique, which he readily agreed to.

“From then on, she killed me,” says Peled, with a laugh. “It turned out to be a lesson.” The session with Casals Istomin, an acclaimed musician in her own right, lasted more than an hour. “I’m a conductor myself and I’m not used to getting lessons. But it was just wonderful.”

The payoff for Peled was huge. He was invited to New York to play Pablo Casals’ 1733 Goffriller cello, which was acquired by the famous maestro in 1913.

ae2Amit Peled was selected by Pablo Casals’ widow to take the virtuoso’s prized cello on one last world tour.“[Its] special sound is more like a human voice than other cellos,” he says. “It suggests colors to you that you didn’t know existed. It’s a more sophisticated tool, like a handcrafted Rolls-Royce instead of a Toyota.”

After the trip to New York, Peled was given the Goffriller on loan. He’s been touring the country ever since, performing with Casals’ cello—which will eventually be put on permanent display in a Madrid museum, never to be played again.

Local music fans will have a chance to hear Peled for themselves during two upcoming performances in Aptos, a benefit concert on Saturday, March 16, and as part of the Distinguished Artists Concert Series on Sunday, March 17.

“He’s a wonderful performer in the way he engages the audience and makes a personal connection,” says John Orlando, the concert series director. “He loves making contact with the audience. His performances are wonderful—not just from what he plays, but with what he shares.”

Orlando founded the Distinguished Artists Concert Series in 1984. The group typically sponsors five to six concerts a year in Santa Cruz County, primarily featuring classical pianists, such as Yevgeny Sudbin, who will headline a show in April.

Orlando, who was a music instructor and head of the piano department at Cabrillo College for more than 25 years, says that while the concert series typically focuses on piano, the group makes an exception when given the opportunity to feature a musician of Peled’s caliber.

“I think he’s one of the great cellists in the world. He has everything. Flawless technique, beautiful tone, and very deep soul— and you know it,” says Orlando. “I’m sure Casals’ widow saw that immediately.” 


Amit Peled will perform at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 17 at Resurrection Church, 7600 Soquel Drive, Aptos. Tickets are $16-24. Call 539-0000, or visit distinguishedartists.org. Peled will also play at a benefit for the Juanita Orlando Piano Fund at a private Aptos location at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 16. For Saturday’s show, donations are requested, reservations are required and space is limited. Call 539-0000 for reservations.

Comments (1)Add Comment
nice story
written by Peggy A Pollard, March 13, 2013
Great to hear about this amazing professor. We are blessed too, to have him here. Hope to see all you music fans at the Saturday and Sunday for his magiclaconcerts! Mazeltov Amit!

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise