Cellist returns to explore his Jewish identity with concert in temple

Cellist Amit Peled will perform Sunday in a free concert at Temple Adath Israel, but seating is limited so tickets are required.
Cellist Amit Peled will perform Sunday in a free concert at Temple Adath Israel, but seating is limited so tickets are required.

Renowned Israeli cellist Amit Peled is no stranger to Lexington.

In November 2017, he performed with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra at the Singletary Center. Barely a year later, Peled was back at Singletary for a solo performance that was part of the Chamber Music Society of Central Kentucky’s current season.

On Sunday, Peled makes a return trip that will find him in a more intimate venue, telling a very personal story in words, and, of course, music.

Peled will play in the sanctuary at Temple Adath Israel, recounting his “Journey With My Jewishness.”

It’s “my very personal voyage as a musician and a human being, from growing up in a small kibbutz in Israel to becoming a world traveler and performer, finding through Jewish themes and the human sound of the cello my true identity and love of sharing music with people,” Peled said.

The program will feature Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 1,” Tchaikovsy’s “Variations on a Rococo Theme,” Max Bruch’s “Kol Nidrei” and Mark Kopytman’s “Kaddish.” The title of the Bruch piece refers to the prayer said at the start of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when Jews repent and also offer forgiveness. The Kaddish is also the name of the prayer traditionally recited in memory of the dead.

Peled started his life as a musician in the fourth grade when, he says, he and his classmates on the kibbutz were “forced” to take up an instrument. He picked the cello because he had a crush on an older girl and “thought that the only way for me to get closer to her was to play her instrument.”

At 16, Peled says, he had to make another decision: basketball or the cello.

“I really felt a strong connection with the cello, and I knew I probably wouldn’t make it to the NBA,” Peled told The Jewish News of Northern California. At the time, he was 5-foot-11. If Peled knew then what he knows now – he grew another 6 inches – would he perhaps have made a different choice?

He thinks not. “The cello is so much a part of me,” Peled told The Jewish News. “I was destined to do it.”

When he’s not performing, Peled is on the faculty of the Peabody Institute, the music conservatory at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Although the Peled event at TAI is free, tickets are required because seating is limited. Tickets are available at

If you go: “Journey With My Jewishness”

What: Cellist Amit Peled, with pianist Noreen Polera

When: 4 p.m. Sunday, April 28

Where: Temple Adath Israel, 124 N. Ashland Ave.

Cost: Free, but tickets are required; go to