Pianist Pinkas to perform with Azmeh, Apple Hill String Quartet

by Perri Haser | 11/12/13 4:58pm

On Wednesday, the Apple Hill string quartet will attempt to use its music to raise awareness about global conflicts, including victims of the recent violence in Syria. Along with artist-in-residence Sally Pinkas and Syrian-born clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, the quartet will perform Haydn’s “Rider” quartet and a quintet by Jewish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg, as well as pieces by Emmy-nominated composer Kareem Roustom.

These pieces were chosen in part for their social implications. Roustom’s “A Muffled Scream” was inspired by the state of refugees at the Zaatari Camp in Jordan, and “Traces” is a broader commentary on the loss of life, infrastructure and identity that the Syrian war has caused.

“It’s not a short program but every piece is a different corner,” Pinkas said.

The artists spoke about the personal reflection that can be triggered by potent music, and the hope that the performance will lead audience members to ask questions about the conflict and how they can help. These factors drove many of Roustom’s compositions.

“Making music is an act of freedom,” Azmeh said.

Roustom said he weaves meaningful narratives in his works. “Traces,” for example, was inspired by a pre-Islamic poem about men who fell in love but were later unable to find their loved ones, returning to an empty site with only traces of the past.

“I have to feel like something needs to be said,” he said.

The Apple Hill string quartet, which includes violinists Elise Kuder and Colleen Jennings, violist Michael Kelley and violoncellist Rupert Thomas, also hope to use their music to encourage understanding among diverse groups and cultures.

“When you sit on stage and play it doesn’t matter where we come from because we communicate through this music,” Pinkas said. “There are no borders when you speak through music”.

Pinkas, who raised funds to bring visiting artists to campus and commission “Traces,” added that she hopes to expose the audience to beautiful music.

Sarah Wang ’14, a longtime piano student of Pinkas, called her a “very intentional” artist who has a “versatile” ability to create music.

The performance, with its contemporary music, could serve as an opportunity to show students that classical music can be “constantly active” and engage with international issues, Wang added.

With its diverse performers and music, this performance exemplifies how music unites all people.

“I think that music is a very powerful agent for social change,” Wang said. “I hope people’s notion of peace challenged through music.”