Pianist bridges the political chasm


This week, Richard Tognetti along with ACO2 and guest artists have packed their surf gear and travelled the country presenting The Reef. which comes to Sydney on Monday July 23rd. 

Back in Sydney, three core members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra are performing Schubert’s Trout Quintet and Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time with outstanding guest artists, Israeli-Palestinian pianist Saleem Abboud Ashkar and Australian clarinetist Paul Dean. The ACO contingent comprising violinist Helena Rathbone, violist Christopher Moore, cellist Timo-Veikko Valve and double- bassist  Maxime Bibeau along with their guests are delivering spell-binding performances.

I first heard pianist Saleem Abboud Ashkar at the BBC Proms in 2009, when he performed Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No 1 in G minor opus 25 at the Royal Albert Hall with the Leipzig Gewandhaus and conductor Riccardo Chailly.

Saleem Abboud Ashkar was born in Nazareth in 1976,  and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Hochschule für Musik in Hannover. At 17, he made his debut playing Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta, followed by his Carnegie Hall debut at the age of 22 in a concert conducted by Daniel Barenboim, who subsequently invited him to perform with the Staatskapelle Berlin and at the BBC Proms. What captivated me was the rich history behind this mix of performers and composers. A history that spoke of division and hatred, but which, in the 21st century had come together in a common parlance.

The soloist was of Israeli-Palestinian birth; he performed music written by a German Jew; the history of Leipzig is inextricably linked with the Second World War; also on the programme was the Symphony No 10. by Mahler, another Jew. It was a memorable concert and greatly appreciated by the audience.

There are two more performances of this programme on Tuesday July 17th at 8 pm and on Wednesday July 18th at 7 pm at the City Recital Hall, Sydney.

Saleem Abboud Ashkar interview:


Shamistha de Soysa©

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *