Tucsonans will have an opportunity to see and hear a giant of the classical music world on March 31 when the Tucson Symphony Orchestra welcomes world-renowned violinist Pinchas Zukerman. With a musical career spanning more than four decades, the Israeli-born Zukerman continues to delight audiences worldwide, playing nearly 100 engagements a year. Zukerman’s wife, Amanda Forsyth, will join him to play the Brahms double concerto for this Tucson debut performance.
Forsyth is an internationally acclaimed cellist who in 2014 toured the United States as a featured soloist with the London-based Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and made her Carnegie Hall debut with the Israel Philharmonic.
Zukerman and Forsyth, married 11 years, collaborate professionally with the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa where Zukerman has been the music director for the past 16 years and Forsyth is the principal cellist. They also perform together with the Zukerman Chamber Players.
Looking back on his musical life journey Zukerman told the AJP, “I had a childhood like no other in Holon (Israel) where I had the support of a tremendous family, all of whom had escaped the Holocaust to start life again in Israel. I had a very worldly sort of upbringing that was rich in musical instruction. To earn his living, my father was a klezmer in a shtetl in Poland. He played many instruments quite well and he taught me how to play violin. I inherited this wonderful, musical, Jewish DNA.”
Zukerman’s exceptional talent was “discovered” by the acclaimed violinist Isaac Stern. “Stern,” says Zuckerman, “was an incredible icon who had a vision for talent, for people in music that very few have in a century. He convinced my parents that he should become my guardian so that I could pursue my music studies in the United States.”
Arriving in New York City as a teenager under Stern’s wing, Zukerman benefited from scholarship help for his music studies from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. “It was such a lucky thing that my childhood had been so wonderful and that I was firmly grounded in a strong value system,” he says, “because once I got to New York as a 13-1/2 year old, I had to become an adult virtually overnight.”
Zukerman attended the Julliard School of Music where he studied with the much-revered teacher of the last century, Ivan Alexander Galamian. “Galamian was an absolutely amazing man. There was no one more dedicated to violin teaching than that man.”
A devoted pedagogue for 30 years, Zukerman chairs the Pinchas Zukerman Performance Program at the Manhattan School of Music. “My own personal experience,” he says, “has helped me nurture exceptionally talented young people and speak to their parents about what they can do to advance their children’s musical education.”
Zukerman has recorded over 100 discs and has earned two Grammy awards. His most recent release features him and Forsyth, along with the National Arts center Ochestra of Ottowa, playing the Brahms double concerto, which they will perform with the TSO on Tuesday, March 31 at 8 p.m. at the Tucson Music Hall. Tickets are available from the TSO box office at 882-8585 or www.tucsonsymphony.org.
Renee Claire is a freelance writer in Tucson.