Intercultural Journeys presents the Apple Hill String Quartet

Featuring Philadelphia premiere of “Traces” by Emmy-nominated composer Kareem Roustom

Philadelphia, PAIntercultural Journeys is pleased to announce the third concert of its 2014/15 Songs for Peace season featuring the Apple Hill String Quartet, an ensemble based in Nelson, New Hampshire.  The performance will take place on Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 7:30pm at International House Philadelphia.  This concert entitled “Music Bridging Cultural Divides,” is presented as part of the Apple Hill String Quartet’s Playing for Peace program and uses music as a vehicle to bring musicians from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and faiths together to dispel their differences.  The Apple Hill String Quartet is the resident ensemble of the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, which has been a center for high-level classical music performance and teaching since it was first founded in the early 1970s. 

This concert features pieces by Franz Joseph Haydn, Mieczyslaw Weinberg, and Emmy-nominated composer Kareem Roustom, including a special performance of his work “Traces.” “Traces,” which was commissioned specifically for this sextet, evokes the imagery of an abandoned Bedouin camp and examines the themes of love, loss, memory, life, death, and longing for the past.  This is the Philadelphia premiere of the work.  The piece was previously performed at Dartmouth College and Arizona State University.

The Apple Hill String Quartet is made up of Elise Kruder (violin), Colleen Jennings (violin), Michael Kelley (viola), and Rupert Thompson (cello).  They are joined by Kinan Azmeh (clarinet) and Sally Pinkas (piano). Kinan, originally born in Syria, has been hailed as a “virtuoso” by the New York Times. Israeli-born Sally Pinkas has performed and toured around the world including Nigeria, China, Bulgaria, Russia, Israel, and Western Europe. 

IJ Curator Alex Shaw is particularly delighted to welcome the Apple Hill String Quartet, Kinan, and Sally into the season. “As a teenager, I spent some of my summers at the Apple Hill Center where I actually met Kinan over 20 years ago.  It’s exciting to come full circle and be reunited under a common objective of intercultural music and social change. We’re especially anticipating the Philadelphia premier of ‘Traces,’ and composer Kareem Roustom will also be present to offer his insight into the meaning and conception of his piece.”

In conjunction with the 2014/15 Songs for Peace season, IJ has implemented a new concert model that ties each of the series performances to a community engagement event designed to increase impact in the wider Philadelphia community.  For this concert, IJ has partnered with Settlement Music School to offer free masterclasses to student ensembles at its Queen Street Branch on the morning of February 7.  The artists will work with a variety of advanced students as well as performing a short concert followed by a brief talk back session.

The performance will take place at 7:30pm on February 7 at International House Philadelphia. Tickets are $15 for the general public.  Discounts are available for members of International House. Student tickets are $8 with a valid ID.  Tickets are sold through International House Philadelphia and may be purchased online at or by calling the International House Philadelphia box office at 215.387.5125, selecting menu option 2.

About The Apple Hill String Quartet

The Apple Hill String Quartet has earned accolades from around the world for their interpretive mastery of such traditional repertoire as Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven, and Ravel — along with their special dedication to seldom heard masterworks and contemporary music. They have performed concerts extensively throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia as part of Apple Hill’s innovative Playing for Peace™ program.

Education is an integral part of the quartet’s mission — therefore they have conducted mini-residencies in embassies, communities, schools and universities locally in the Monadnock region, nationally in the major U.S. cities, and throughout the world in such faraway places as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Algiers, Cyprus, Ireland, England, Burma, Vietnam, Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Russia. They also spend countless hours as dedicated teacher-performers at Apple Hill’s renowned Summer Chamber Music Workshop, held each summer on the 100-acre Apple Hill campus.

As 21st-century musicians, the quartet is deeply committed to the commissioning of new works. Their recent commission by composer and long-time “Apple Hiller” Daniel Sedgwick was premiered at Apple Hill in 2009 and performed to critical acclaim throughout the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East. Their project, Around the World with Playing for Peace, features the rich multicultural repertoire of works and compositions associated with countries visited through the Playing for Peace program, as seen through the lens of the string quartet. Featured composers have included Victor Ullman (String Quartet #3, written in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp), Turkish composer Ekrem Zeki Ün, Armenian composers Alan Hovhaness and A. Zohrabian, Syrian composer Kareem Roustom, and American composers Roger Sessions, John Harbison, Tom Oboe Lee, Larry Siegel, and Charles Ives.  The quartet is comprised of Elise Kuder and Colleen Jennings (violin), Michael Kelley (viola), and Rupert Thompson (cello).

About Kinan Azmeh

Hailed as a “virtuoso” by the New York Times and "Incredibly Rich sound" by the CBC, Kinan Azmeh is one of Syria’s rising stars. His utterly distinctive sound across different musical genres is now fast gaining international recognition.  Born in Damascus, Kinan was the first Arab to win the premier prize at the 1997 Nicolai Rubinstein International Competition, Moscow. A graduate of New York's Juilliard school as a student of Charles Neidich, and of both the Damascus High institute of Music where he studied with Shukry Sahwki, Nicolay Viovanof and Anatoly Moratof, and Damascus University’s School of Electrical Engineering, Kinan is currently finishing his doctoral work at the City University of New York.

Kinan has appeared worldwide as a soloist, composer and improviser. Notable appearances include: Opera Bastille, Paris; Tchaikovsky Grand Hall, Moscow; Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall and the UN's general assembly, New York; the Royal Albert hall, London; Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires; der Philharmonie; Berlin; the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, Washington DC; the Mozarteum, Salzburg and the Damascus opera house for its opening concert in his native Syria.

Compositions include several works for solo, orchestra, and chamber music; film, live illustration, and electronics. His discography include three albums with his ensemble HEWAR, several soundtracks for film and dance, and a duo album with pianist Dinuk Wijeratne.

He serves as artistic director of the Damascus Festival Chamber Music Ensemble, with whom he released an album of new contemporary Syrian chamber music written especially for the ensemble by various composers and is on the advisory board of the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra.

About Sally Pinkas

Following her Wigmore Hall debut, Israeli-born pianist Sally Pinkas has been heard in recital at Italy’s Villa Serbelloni (Bellagio) and Villa Aurelia (Rome), Bulgaria’s National Gallery (Sofia) and Mirror Hall (Dobrich), in Israel, France and throughout the USA. Described by Gramophone Magazine as “ artist who melds lucid textures with subtle expressive detailing, minus hints of bombast or mannerism...”, she has appeared as soloist with the Boston Pops, the Aspen Philharmonia, Jupiter Symphony and the Bulgarian Chamber Orchestra. Summer credits include festivals at Apple Hill, Rockport, Marlboro, Tanglewood and Aspen, as well as Kfar Blum (Israel), Officina Scotese (Italy) and Pontlevoy (France).

As a chamber musician, Pinkas explores a wide range of repertoire and genre. With husband Evan Hirsch (The Hirsch-Pinkas Piano Duo) she has toured China, Nigeria, Russia, Israel and Europe. The Duo has commissioned, premiered and recorded works by George Rochberg, Daniel Pinkham and Thomas Oboe Lee for the Naxos and Arsis labels. With her long-time partner flutist Fenwick Smith, Pinkas has recorded a 3-CD set featuring the music of Philippe Gaubert, as well as a Martinu selection (Naxos). She is a member of Ensemble Schumann (with oboist Tom Gallant and violist Steve Larson), and appears regularly with the Adaskin Trio, with whom she has released the Fauré Piano Quartets (MSR).

Trained in the USA, Pinkas holds performance degrees from Indiana University and the New England Conservatory of Music, and a Ph.D. in Composition and Theory from Brandeis University. Her principal teachers were Russell Sherman, George Sebok, Luise Vosgerchian and Genia Bar-Niv (piano), Sergiu Natra (composition), and Robert Koff (chamber music). Pianist-in-residence at the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College, she is Professor of Music at Dartmouth's Music Department.

About Kareem Roustom

Kareem Roustom is an Emmy-nominated composer who has composed music for film, television, the concert hall and album projects.  Steeped in the musical traditions of the Near East and trained in Western music, Roustom is a musically bi-lingual composer who has collaborated with a wide variety of artists ranging from the Philadelphia Orchestra to Shakira.

An active composer of film music, he has scored a number of short and feature-length films, and his score for the PBS documentary “The Mosque in Morgantown” earned him an Emmy nomination in the 31st Annual News & Documentary Emmy awards. Roustom’s score for the award-winning documentary Encounter Point earned him the Best Musical Score Award at the 2006 Bend International Film Festival.  Of his score for Amreeka (Sundance & Cannes film festival award winner) the Hollywood Reporter wrote “Kareem Roustom’s Middle Eastern flavored score contributes greatly.” About his score to the documentary Budrus (2010) Variety Magazine wrote “A strong string, wind and percussion score by Kareem Roustom adds to the momentum and underlines key moments.”  In June of 2010 Roustom was awarded a fellowship to the prestigious Sundance Film Composers Lab held annually at the Sundance Institute. Roustom is also the recipient of BMI’s Pete Carpenter Fellowship in film & TV music as well as a CAP Award from the American Music Center.

About Intercultural Journeys

Intercultural Journeys seeks to promote understanding in pursuit of peace amongst people of diverse faiths and cultures through dialogue and the presentation of world-class performances in music, dance, the spoken word, and other art forms. We believe that performances, done for the purpose of bringing people together that might otherwise be in conflict, give us the opportunity to play a small part in contributing to world peace. We fulfill our mission by transforming the traditional concert series into a new model that pairs performances featuring world-class artists with a special engagement project that takes those same artists into a specific and often underserved community.  We believe that education is the cornerstone of our mission. Our educational residency program, Dialogues in Music, is aimed at promoting tolerance, respect, and mutual cultural understanding in the city’s youth.

Intercultural Journeys was first founded in 2002 by Philadelphia Orchestra cellist Udi Bar-David, philanthropist Carole Haas Gravagno, Majid Alsayegh, and Sheldon L. Thompson. Together they saw the role that music could

play in beginning a dialogue between people that might not otherwise speak to each other.  Since then, Intercultural Journeys has held over 160 concerts, partnering with a diverse roster of both local and international artists, in the Greater Philadelphia area, across the United States, and abroad, in countries such as China, Spain, Italy, and Israel. 

Fact Sheet

Intercultural Journeys presents the Apple Hill String Quartet with Kinan Azmeh and Sally Pinkas                           

February 7, 2015, 7:30pm


Elise Kuder, violin

Colleen Jennings, violin

Michael Kelley, viola

Rupert Thompson, cello

Kinan Azmeh, clarinet

Sally Pinkas, piano


All tickets $15 General Admission/ $10 International House Philadelphia members/ $8 Students


International House Philadelphia

3701 Chestnut Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104

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