New music director Amit Peled says he believes in mission of CityMusic Cleveland

July 31st, 2019

Cleveland Jewish News, July 31 2019


CityMusic Cleveland, the chamber orchestra that performs for free in churches and other nontraditional concert locations, has turned to Israel again for its next music director, tapping Amit Peled, who was raised on a kibbutz, to replace outgoing director Avner Dorman.

Peled, who will remain in his full-time position as a professor at the Peabody Conservatory of Music of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and commute to Cleveland as necessary for CityMusic, is a cellist who has performed around the world and has released four albums. He was unaware of CityMusic Cleveland until May, when he performed with CityMusic at concerts in Beachwood, Lakewood, Willoughby Hills and Cleveland’s North Collinwood and Slavic Village neighborhoods. And he admits even then, his only real association with Cleveland was former Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, now with the Los Angeles Lakers.

“When I grew up in Israel, Cleveland for me was just LeBron James,” Peled said. “I used to wake up at 3 a.m. to watch the playoffs. Even two years ago, after I was already leaving the states and performing all over the world, the only time I came to Cleveland was to watch the NBA Finals. I flew to especially to Cleveland for one night just to watch that game. It was unbelievable. And I never, never thought of it that Cleveland would be a place where I would end up really engaging with the community and engaging in music, but then I came last May … I got to meet a lot of the Jewish community people. It’s just great potential. It started with LeBron James and now I am fully involved in the community and looking forward to programs in the future. It’s really wonderful.”


Amit Walking w Cello


Peled is 6-foot-5 and wanted to play basketball before he picked up his cello. He has been in the United States for 16 years, moving here at age 21 after completing his mandatory service in the Israel Defense Forces and became the youngest cello professor at John Hopkins by age 28.

“I always felt my passion and love and will to break barriers with audiences through teaching and performing cello was just not enough,” Peled said. “(With the CityMusic position) I can really try my best to show … classical music is exciting.”

Peled said he was attracted to the “passion of the people” with CityMusic and said he believed in its mission. He was also attracted to CityMusic’s practice of doing the same performance five times in different neighborhoods and suburbs, something that doesn’t normally happen for orchestra performers. He said he started a similar program in Maryland, called Mount Vernon Virtuosi, which is now in its second season.

He said he expected to have a dialogue with the administration of CityMusic to come up with programs that will attract people, especially since he is not from the area. He said he would continue CityMusic’s mission of making classical music accessible to the public. He already has a few ideas, including sharing personal anecdotes during performances and another idea that showcases his sense of humor; one idea Peled has is a program titled “In Between Two Musical Giants.”

“Me, myself, being 6 feet, 5 inches, the whole joke about this will be I am the giant in between (composer Wolfgang Amadeus) Mozart and (composer John) Hayden,” he said.

Peled said his first concert with CityMusic will be in October, just after Yom Kippur, where he also plans to play the Kol Nidre. He said he was excited to be able to share the meaning of the Kol Nidre with audiences who might not be Jewish.


“I can also share the story of the Kol Nidre and what it means,” he said. “I think it’s an important mission as an Israeli-Jewish person coming to another country, it’s the best ambassador we can have. It’s important for me to have in every program an American composer and it will be important to maybe expose the Jewish-related music to the Cleveland community and also to the musicians … this program I am very excited about.”



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CityMusic Cleveland is a professional chamber orchestra that performs free concerts throughout Northeast Ohio,often accompanied by exhibits of local artwork.

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CityMusic Cleveland flourishes on first program with new director Amit Peled

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Posted Oct 21, 2019 Cellist-conductor Amit Peled has begun his tenure as music director of CityMusic Cleveland. He conducted the group in a series of performances last week.   By Mark Satola | Special to The Plain Dealer   CLEVELAND, Ohio — In Amit Peled, CityMusic Cleveland has doubled its investment. Not only has it […]

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