Life & Culture

Israeli cellist plays her first prom

Maya Beiser will perform a work written for her


Israeli cellist Maya Beiser makes he BBC Proms debut on August 5, playing  a work specially composed for her by Mark-Anthony Turnage.

The work, entitled  Maya is part of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra’s Brandenburg Concertos Project, which pairs Bach’s six Brandenburg Concertos with six newly commissioned companion works, to create a brand-new musical cycle. The cycle will be performed over two concerts in one day at the BBC Proms. The companion works, by composers Mark-Anthony Turnage, Anders Hillborg, Uri Caine, Olga Neuwirth, Brett Dean, and Steven Mackey, each feature a soloist selected by the composer, and have the same instrumentation as Brandenburg Concerto with which they are paired.

 Beiser was brough up in the Galilee Mountains in Israel, surrounded by the music and rituals of Jews, Muslims, and Christians. She studied  classical cello repertoire, but has said  she is dedicated to creating new realms in which concert music can exist, and has redefined every aspect of what it means to be a cellist in the contemporary context.

Of Turnage’s new work for her, Beiser says, “Mark’s concerto is a haunting, beautiful elegy. It depicts the cello singing a delicate, soaring aria amidst shifting harmonies which stretches and expand the skeletal outline of J. S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 1.”

Beiser told the JC in 2014  that her Jewish background was a significant influence on her work. She added:  “it’s very important to me and I’ve raised my two kids in Jewish schools” — but in the spiritual sense, “I’ve found my own individual way forward. I guess this is what I’ve done with everything in life.”


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