Israeli musicians also have military strings attached

SHELLEY KLEIMAN, World Zionist Press Service
19 June 1998

Jerusalem Quartet members serving in nation's army

They're young, winsome and talented, and they play classical music. What more could a mother want?

Three Russian immigrants and one native-born Israeli make up the Jerusalem Quartet, ISrael's only professional string quartet. All were inducted into the Israeli Defence Forces last year.  The Quartet is composed of (left to right) Alexander Pavlovsky, Sergei Bressler, Kyril Zlotnikov and Amichai GrossIt's not only that Amichai Gross (18), Alexander Pavlovsky (20), Sergei Bressler (19) and Kyril Zlotnikov (19) are award-winning musicians in their own right, but together they make up the Jerusalem Quartet, Israel's only professional string quartet. In 1995, they were awarded a special prize as guests of the Forum Musical de Normandie, won first prize in the Jerusalem Academy Music Competition in 1996, and in 1997 came in first - a real coup - at the Franz Schubert and the Music of the 20th Century Competition in Graz, Austria.

Sitting around in T-shirts and jeans, they appear so easy-going and carefree, it's hard to imagine they have all been playing since they were in kindergarten, submitting willingly to the intense rigors their art demands. While their friends were playing soccer, they were heading for rehearsals. But though childhood passed them by, none of them feel they have given up something irretrievable.

"I can't imagine being without music," says Zlotnikov, the group's cellist. "And I hope I'll never have to," adds Pavlovsky (who plays first violin).

At an age when many of their peers are just beginning to find themselves, these four have a very focused agenda. "We want to be the best in the world," says violist Gross, with quiet aplomb. "We want to be 'superstars' "adds Zlotnikov, using a very exaggerated American inflection.

Practicing together often three to four hours a day, they also all take private lessons, each honing their skills as soloist musicians. Each has won numerous musical awards, and all have worked with top-class musicians and ensembles, such as Isaac Stern, Gyorgy Kurtag, Richard Stolzman and the Amadeus Quartet.

Free time for discos, MTV, soccer and books plays second fiddle to their music. Always on the move, frequently living out of suitcases and in the homes of foreign hosts or in hotels ("We've run out of gifts to buy when we're abroad," quips one), it is in Jerusalem where the group feels most at ease. "It's home," says Gross simply.

Gross is the only native-born Israeli in the group. Pavlovsky, Bressler and Zlotnikov immigrated from Russia in 1991 with their families, forming the Quartet in 1993 under the auspices of the Jerusalem Music Center. While they all consider themselves Israeli, they frequently lapse into Russian during rehearsals. In fact, Gross seems to have become rather fluent in Russian profanities, his mentors proudly assert.

Joining the troops

If one minute they're in T-shirts and the next in ties and jackets, these days they can just as frequently be seen in army fatigues. Last year they were inducted into the Israeli Defense Forces and endured a month of basic training. Bressler (second violin) says his only fear then was that something would happen to his hands.

The Quartet now serves as Distinguished Musicians, performing for troops three times a week. Recitals are laced with explanations. Not intending to produce subscribers to the Philharmonic, Gross says they simply want their fellow troops to appreciate classical music. And to a large extent they have been successful.

For the three immigrants, carrying a rifle in one hand and a violin in the other is the ultimate Zionist statement. "It's something our parents could hardly have imagined ten years ago," says Zlotnikov.

Their European tours have included London, Oslo, Vienna and Rome, and they have performed in South Africa, Amman and New York. Booked a year in advance, their most prestigious concert will take place this summer at the new Baden-Baden Festival in Germany. The subject of a recent Israeli television documentary, the Jerusalem Quartet released its first disc in February.

Although the four obviously like each other, how does their one-for-all-and-all-for-four camaraderie translate professionally? Do they ever argue? Are they ever at loggerheads?

"Frequently," they readily concur. "Imagine an artist's temperament multiplied by four," Zlotnikov playfully suggests. No one personality dominates, Gross insists: each musician has his own style and personality to contribute. When they clash on questions of interpretation, they try out all variations. In the end, after a bit of blood, sweat and tears, they always reach a compromise. For the sake of producing good music, they say, personal considerations have to be shelved.

This is proof enough that these talented youngsters are not only going through a professional process, they say, but a maturing process as well.

This is the entire original article which was until recently at :

Also saved on inminds website here

For this and other reasons, the JQ can be considered prime targets for protest and boycott.


Below are details of all performances of the Jerusalem Quartet European/US  tour, Feb 11 – May 27

Monday, Feb 11                20:00   BELGIUM              HASSELT: CULTUURCENTRUM

Tuesday, Feb 12                20:00     NETHERLANDS   ROTTERDAM: DE DOELEN

Wednesday, Feb 13          20:00     UK                         BIRMINGHAM: BARBER INSTITUTE

Friday, Feb 15                    21:00     ITALY                    SIENNA: PALAZZO CHIGI SARACINI

Saturday, Feb 16               19:30     UK                         LONDON: WIGMORE HALL

Monday, Feb 18                20:30     ITALY                    FERRARA: TEATRO COMUNALE DI FERRARA

Tuesday, Feb 19                00:00     LUXEMBOURG   PHILHARMONIE DE LUXEMBOURG

Sunday, Mar 10                 15:00     USA                       PORTLAND, OR: LINCOLN HALL

Monday, Mar 11               19:30     USA                       PORTLAND, OR: LINCOLN PERFORMANCE HALL

Wednesday, Mar 13         19:30     USA                       PORTLAND, OR: LINCOLN PERFORMANCE HALL

Thursday, Mar 14             19:30     USA                       PORTLAND, OR: LINCOLN PERFORMANCE HALL

Sunday, Mar 17                 17:00     USA                       NEW YORK, NY: ALICE TULLY HALL

Tuesday, Mar 19               19:30     USA                       NEW YORK, NY: ALICE TULLY HALL

Friday, Mar 22                   19:30     USA                       NEW YORK, NY: ALICE TULLY HALL

Sunday, Mar 24                 17:00     USA                       NEW YORK, NY: ALICE TULLY HALL

Monday, Apr 15                19:30     GERMANY           BAD KISSINGEN: REGENTENBAU

Tuesday, Apr 16                19:30     GERMANY           POLLING: BIBLIOTHEKSAAL

Wednesday, Apr 17          20:00     GERMANY           MUNICH: HERKULESSAAL

Thursday, Apr 18, 2013, 20:00      GERMANY           HUMLEBAEK: MUSEUM LOUISIANA,

Friday, Apr 19                    20:00     GERMANY           HUMLEBAEK: MUSEUM LOUISIANA,

Sunday, Apr 21                  16:00     BELGIUM             ANTWERPEN: DE SINGEL

Monday, Apr 22                20:15     NETHERLANDS   GRONINGEN: DE OOSTERPOORT

Tuesday, Apr 23                20:15     NETHERLANDS  THE HAGUE: THEATER DILIGENTIA

Wednesday, Apr 24          20:30     NETHERLANDS   MAASTRICHT: SINT JANSKERK

Thursday, Apr 25               20:00     NETHERLANDS   GENT: SEDELIJKE CONCERTZAAL DE BIJLOKE

Saturday, Apr 27               20:00     AUSTRIA              HOHENEMS: SCHUBERTIADE

Sunday, May 19                17:00     GERMANY           NEUWIED: SCHLOSS ENGERS

Wednesday, May 22        19:00     PORTUGAL          LISBON: GULBENKIAN

Friday, May 24                  19:00     GERMANY           BONN: BEETHOVEN-HAUS

Sunday, May 26                20:00     SWITZERLAND    ZURICH: TONHALLE

Monday, May 27              20:00     MARSEILLE: THEATRE NATIONAL - LA CRIEE

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