Kyril Zlotnikov: I feel the kind of energy that went from du Pre into this instrument  (March 27, 2006) Quartet Support For Israeli Occupation Deplored

Monday, 27 March 2006, 9:58 am
Press Release: Palestine Human Rights Campaign

Palestine Human Rights Campaign Deplores Jerusalem Quartet Support For the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Lands

On Saturday April 1, and for the second time in two years, the Palestine Human Rights Campaign (PHRC) will be protesting at the Auckland Town Hall against the visit of the Israeli Jerusalem Quartet, whose members support Israel’s violent military occupation of Palestine.

PHRC had hoped that the Quartet would take a lead from the great Israeli musician, conductor Daniel Barenboim who, with other Jewish artists, authors, academics and professionals, has condemned the inhuman and racist Israeli policies against the Palestinian people. We have twice asked the Quartet if they were prepared to emulate Barenboim’s courageous bridge building with the Palestinians. So far, we have had no response.

When the Jerusalem Quartet play Shostakovich’s String Quartet No 8, which is ‘dedicated to the victims of racism and war’, we ask them to give a thought to the nearly 4000 Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli military action in the last four years.

We call upon all those of conscience to join the growing global boycott of bilateral trade, cultural, academic and sporting relations with Israel until it respects basic Palestinian human rights and shows a willingness to abide by International Law the Geneva Conventions. UN Resolutions and the International Court of Justice ruling on the illegality of Israeli settlement colonies and its Apartheid Separation Wall in the occupied West Bank and Arab Jerusalem.

ENDS (March 28, 2006) Legendary musicians (Jacqueline du Pre) honoured in concert

Tuesday, 28 March 2006, 5:01 pm
Press Release: Chamber Music New Zealand

Legendary musicians honoured in concert

For immediate release / 28 March 2006 / 373 words

When the Jerusalem Quartet return to New Zealand this April to perform in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, they will bring an iconic musical instrument with them. Cellist Kyril Zlotnikov will play a cello once owned by the late Jacqueline du Pre who was considered one of the world¹s greatest cellists. The cello is on loan to him from du Pre¹s husband, conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim. The cello was made in 1970 by Philadelphian luthier Sergio Peresson.

“It was a great privilege and a surprise when Barenboim allowed me to play this cello. This was especially made for Jacqueline du Pre”, said Kyril. “It makes a wonderful sound and it is very exciting to be able to use this instrument. I am very grateful to Daniel Barenboim.”

Kyril has performed and toured with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra that Barenboim co-founded in 1999. The orchestra has been dubbed the ŒPeace¹ orchestra as it brings young Israeli, Palestinian, Arab and German musicians together.

One of the most dynamic and exciting young quartets currently performing, the Jerusalem Quartet have been dubbed the “chamber music superstars” of the new generation of young string quartets. The quartet were founded within the framework of the Young Musicians¹ Group of the Jerusalem Music Centre and the America-Israel Cultural Foundation in co-operation with the Conservatory of the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music and Dance, where they studied under Avi Abramovich.

Since their last visit to New Zealand in 2004, the group have won the Borletti Buitoni Trust award, completed their first tour of Japan, recorded a Shostakovich CD and have opened their own Chamber Music Series in Israel, with a children¹s project where they play special concerts for school children.

In their New Zealand performances, they will honour one of music’s most profound commentators, Russian composer Dimitri Shostakovich with a performance of his String Quartet No 8, dedicated ‘In memory of victims of fascism and war’.

The Jerusalem Quartet will perform in Auckland on Saturday 1 April, Christchurch Monday 3 April and Wellington Tuesday 4 April.

For more information, ph 0800 CONCERT (266 2367), email or visit

In presenting these concerts, Chamber Music New Zealand acknowledges major funding from Creative New Zealand and support from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust.


Jerusalem Quartet in concert
*Student rush tickets avail in all centres on the day of the concert: $15 (ID required)

Auckland ­ Saturday 1 April, Auckland Town Hall, 8pm. Tickets $60 A reserve, $50 B reserve. Book at Ticketek, ph (09) 307 5000 (service fees apply).
*Free pre-concert talk @ The Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall, 7 – 7.30 pm

Christchurch ­ Monday 3 April, James Hay Theatre, 8pm. Tickets $60 A reserve, $50 B reserve. Book at Ticketek, ph (03) 377 8899 (service fees apply).

Wellington – Tuesday 4 April, Wellington Town Hall, 8pm. Tickets $60 A reserve, $50 B reserve. Book at Ticketek, ph (04) 384 3840 (service fees apply).

Jerusalem Quartet programme

Performing in Auckland and Christchurch:

SHOSTAKOVICH: String Quartet No 6 in G Opus 101
BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in B flat Opus 18 No 6
SHOSTAKOVICH: String Quartet No 8 in C minor Opus 110

Performing in Wellington:
SHOSTAKOVICH: String Quartet No 11 in F minor Opus 122
MOZART: String Quartet No 20 in D K499 ‘Hoffmeister¹
SHOSTAKOVICH: String Quartet No 8 in C minor Opus

About Jerusalem Quartet
Alexander Pavlovsky – violin, Sergei Bresler – violin, Amichai Grosz – viola, Kyril Zlotnikov – cello.

Known for their mature interpretation of the great works and flawless technique, the Jerusalem Quartet return to New Zealand to open Chamber Music New Zealand¹s 2006 Celebrity Season in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Shostakovich¹s music has a particular resonance for the Jerusalem Quartet as three of the members were brought up in the former Soviet Union. “Shostakovich’s music is a significant part of our lives and is very much relevant to us today. His music demonstrates the truth of life under Stalin; everyone’s struggle to survive, how everyone lived in constant fear. Even under the oppressive conditions of the Soviet era, Shostakovich had the courage to express the hidden strength of his people in his music. He does so with extraordinary dramatic feeling in a spirit of resistance and freedom. His music became a source of moral support to those who were persecuted or suffered in other ways.”

“As we play his music, we interpret them using our personal feeling and experiences. Having the opportunity to explore new countries, playing in new and famous concert halls, meeting new audience and sharing our love of music with people all over the world is so enriching for all of us.”

ENDS  (May 1, 2006) Jerusalem Quartet cellist recounts a life of note By: ALAN SMASON Staff Reporter

Jerusalem Quartet members, from left, are violinists Sergei Bressler and Alexander Pavlovsky, cellist Kyril Zlotnikov and violist Amichai Gross.

At age 27, Kyril Zlotnikov considers himself very lucky.

He has lived through the devastating effects of the worst nuclear plant disaster in history, immigrated to Israel while barely in his teens, learned to speak and write Hebrew, and was accepted as a prodigy to the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music. Since 1993, with the other members of his group, the Jerusalem Quartet, Zlotnikov has garnered numerous international awards and acclaim, establishing him as a star cellist.

The Jerusalem Quartet will perform at a Cleveland Chamber Music Society program at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple on May 2 at 8 p.m.

Like Zlotnikov, quartet violinists Alexander Pavlovsky, 28, and Sergei Bressler, 27, are Soviet ?igr?, while violist Amichai Gross is a native of Israel.

“This year is Shostakovich’s 200-year anniversary, so we are playing all of the cycle of the Shostakovitch string quartets,” said Zlotnikov in a telephone interview with the CJN. The group will play Quartets 1, 8 and 2 here.

Speaking of his earlier life in the former Soviet Union, Zlotnikov reflected on how far he has come. His family lived in Minsk, not far from the site of the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident.

“Life there was really difficult,” he explained. “Anti-Semitism was quite high, and of course, the environment, especially after Chernobyl, ecologically-speaking, was quite dangerous.”

People didn’t know what foods or drink were contaminated by radiation from the disaster. Not surprisingly, people wanted to get away from that toxic scene. “For Jewish people to move to Israel was always a dream,” added Zlotnikov, “but it wasn’t an easy move.”

Because he was young, Zlotnikov was better able to cope with the move. “For my parents it was much more difficult to leave their house, to leave their jobs, to move to a foreign country that they didn’t know and to not know how to speak the language,” he explained in his thick Russian accent.

His entire family, including his two paternal grandparents, had just $900 with which to start new lives in Jerusalem.

Zlotnikov had begun playing cello at the Byelorussian State Music Academy as a wunderkind at six. After arriving in Israel six years later, he was drawn to the Jerusalem Music Academy and to the Young Musicians Group of the Jerusalem Music Center founded by Isaac Stern.

Once accepted as a student, he received instruction from Avi Abramovich, a Romanian violinist and former quartet member. It was Abramovich who in 1993 put the quartet of teenagers together and set them on their course of international stardom.

Abramovich “played in string quartets in Romania, so he had an idea about how quartets should sound and the technical things that we should work on,” he explained. “We were really lucky that we had the best teacher and that we worked with him for four to five years.”

Their teacher bred in them a desire to play and rehearse together, to listen to the music collectively rather than individually, said Zlotnikov. “He helped to develop you as a group – to think of the string quartet as a living body. It should sound like 16 strong instruments, not just four.”

Success was almost immediate. By 1995 the quartet had already won the first of several major prizes in international competition. They made their first appearance in the United States a year later at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

“This was a special concert that the American-Israel Culture Committee was organizing and the Philadelphia Symphony was supposed to play,” he recalled. “Two or three days before the concert, they went on strike.”

Contacted as a last minute replacement, the quartet members hastily finalized arrangements, including travel visas, and hopped a flight to the US. “A lot of people were really amazed to see only four chairs on stage instead of a hundred,” said Zlotnikov. “To play Carnegie Hall at the age of 17 or 18 was really amazing. We sent a letter to the Philadelphia Orchestra thanking them for going on strike so that everyone could hear us,” he said, laughing.

Another aspect of a quartet is that they must practice together and as individuals. The quartet practices together for four hours three or four times a week, Zlotnikov explained. “But, of course everyone also has to practice individually.”

This togetherness was threatened when the individual members became of age to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. For the first time in Israel’s military history, however, allowances were made to permit a musical group to be simultaneously conscripted. This allowed them to continue to practice and rehearse their work as well as to perform for the troops while serving in the military.

“All of us had to wait for Amichai (Gross), who was the youngest, to go together into the army,” Zlotnikov observed. “This was a lot of paperwork and took a lot of people to get involved to get us into the same basic training and at the same base in the army as a quartet.”

Because they served together, the quartet members maintained their close professional and personal relationships. Once their two-and-a-half years of service was completed in 1999, they were immediately able to begin playing in international competition.

Zlotnikov became friendly with pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim after the two met and played together at the Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival in 2001.

Barenboim’s relationship with Zlotnikov deepened to a point where he extended the younger musician a precious gift.

It was the Sergio Perresson, the cello that was once owned by Barenboim’s deceased wife, the world-famous cellist Jacqueline du Pr? It stands as one of the most famous cellos in the world today.

“Sometimes I feel the kind of energy that went from her into this instrument,” said Zlotnikov. “When I’m playing it, you can feel it.”Barenboim had given other musicians an opportunity to play du Pr?#8217;s cello, but the results were not good.

“Some tried to play it and they weren’t happy with it, but in my hands it worked from the very first second,” Zlotnikov explained. “I am very happy with it.”

Recent CD releases on the Harmonia Mundi label by the Jerusalem Quartet include a volume of Haydn string quartets (HMC 901823) and a volume of Shostakovitch string quartets (HMC 901865).

“It was really an amazing experience to work with Harmonia Mundi. I hope one day that we will record all 15 of (Shostakovitch’s) string quartets.”

The Jersualem Quartet plays an all-Shostakovitch program on May 2 at 8 at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple. Tickets are available at or by calling 216-291-2777.

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