Internationally renowned Israeli cellist Amit Peled will perform Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major with the Falmouth Chamber Players Orchestra, under the direction of William Drury, on Saturday, November 5, and Sunday, November 6, at the First Congregational Church of Falmouth, 68 Main Street. Both performances are at 3 PM.
Other works on the program are Mozart’s Overture to his opera, “The Abduction from the Seraglio,” and Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B minor (“Unfinished”).
Acclaimed as one of the most exciting and virtuosic instrumentalists on the concert stage today, Peled has performed in many of the world’s most prestigious venues, has released over a dozen recordings, and is on the faculty of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He has presented master classes around the world, and, during the pandemic, he established the Amit Peled Online Cello Academy, providing classes based on his book, “The First Hour – A Cellist’s Daily Technical Regimen.” An enthusiastic and generous teacher, he also provides free “Teaching Tips” via YouTube and Facebook. In the background, his home studio features striking works by local artists for his worldwide audiences to enjoy.
Born and raised on an isolated kibbutz in Israel, Peled did not start taking cello lessons until he was 10 and, for a time, was distracted by basketball—he is six foot five. Peled has retained a buoyant athleticism in his playing, using his whole body to express his dynamic musical voice.
Peled has strong ties to the Cape, considering it his second home, and is enthusiastic about playing with the Falmouth Chamber Players Orchestra. A frequent performer to sold-out crowds on the Lower Cape, this concert will be his first on the Upper Cape since his early days performing intimate concerts at Johnson String Instrument in Falmouth.
“Haydn C is the first concerto I ever played with an orchestra and the one I have played most frequently,” said Peled. “I just love it. It’s hard and it doesn’t get any easier, but it is so much fun for the orchestra, for the soloist, and for the audience. It never gets boring, and it demands great communication between the orchestra and the soloist.
“C major is the most heroic and festive key for the cello,” Peled said. “Haydn really knew how to write for the cello, incorporating a full range of cello techniques.”
“The concerto always brings something new from me. Each orchestra takes you on a different journey. Each conductor takes you a different way. I allow myself to integrate with the orchestra and conductor. It’s always fun.”
One of Peled’s performances of the concerto was for Bernard Greenhouse, a former student of the legendary Pablo Casals and one of the founding members of the Beaux Arts Trio. Greenhouse was Peled’s “cello idol” because of his beautiful and distinctive tone. So, after Peled spent a year studying cello at Yale, he called Greenhouse, then 81 and retired, at his home in Wellfleet and asked to play for him.
Greenhouse was so impressed with the young cellist that he said, “If you’re willing to live here in Wellfleet, I’ll teach you for free.” Elated, but impoverished, he left a note in the Wellfleet Public Library: “Young Israeli cellist looking for a place to live in return for housework.”
“Just luckily, Judith Davidson saw the note,” Peled said, and she and her husband Arthur offered him their home. “They are still my best friends and have become like family to me, all because of my admiration for Greenhouse.
“Every summer since I left the Cape, more than 20 years ago, every summer I come here to play with Donald Enos, with the Meeting House Chamber Music Festival, or with the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival.”
Peled also performed Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major at his graduation ceremony from the New England Conservatory, where he studied with Laurence Lesser. He has also performed an all-cello version of the concerto in Wellfleet (and elsewhere) with his Peabody cello students. “I have a lot of connections to Haydn C and to Massachusetts that are very special,” Peled said.
In a 2021 interview with Strad Magazine, Peled said, “We should open our eyes and ears to where we live and play for small communities. You can do just as much good playing in schools, retirement homes and jails as you can in Carnegie Hall. It is unbelievable how music can impact people.”
In 2012, after hearing Peled play, Pablo Casals’ widow Marta Casals Istomin entrusted him with the loan of Casals’ favorite instrument, his 1733 Matteo Goffriller cello, which Casals had purchased in 1913 and had used for all his recordings until his death in 1973.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Peled. “It was supposed to be a loan of only one year. I had it for six years and feel very honored and privileged to have played it.”
Peled is perhaps even more excited about his current cello. “It is the first time in my life that I have owned an instrument—I was always playing on an instrument provided by a foundation,” he said. “This instrument is not an old Italian cello. It’s an old American cello, an American Strad, as we call it, made by Carl Becker, who was the best cello maker ever, in Chicago.
“I simply love it,” Peled said. “When I first played it, I said, ‘this is my voice.’ I’m so very happy to own this special instrument. This concert with the Falmouth Chamber Players Orchestra will be my first time performing Haydn C on it, and I am looking forward to that.”
Peled’s love of the cello and his belief in the power of music and its ability to transcend barriers is unmistakable. He is convinced of its ability to speak to audiences, to bring respite in challenging times, to inspire and bring joy, and he is honored by his ability to share his music—and Haydn’s—and the legacies of his teachers with the world.
Tickets are $20 and available only at the door. For more information about the concert and the Falmouth Chamber Players Orchestra, visit falmouthchamberplayers.org, or call Fritz Sonnichsen at 508-274-2632.