The Jerusalem Quartet
The Jerusalem Quartet. Photo by Felix Broede

With a sublime presentation Tuesday evening by the Jerusalem Quartet, it becomes readily apparent why the Baker-Baum Concert Hall inside the new Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center is getting rave reviews as a chamber music venue.

Patrons were obviously thrilled, affording the quartet a standing ovation.

It took only a tiny bit of imagination to think that the string compositions of Haydn, Debussy and Beethoven were created just to be played by these magnificent Israeli musicians. The quartet is comprised of violinists Alexander Pavlovsky and Sergei Bresler, violist Ori Kam and cellist Kyril Zlotnikov.

Pavlovsky described the group’s work as “sounding like one instrument with 16 strings.”

Ori Kam
Ori Kam

In a post-concert interview with Times of San Diego, violist Kam explained something of his own roots in San Diego.

When his father Ziv — a world renowned scientist and — mother Rachel — a star string player in the Israeli Philarmonic — were working in California, Ori was born in La Jolla. He began his musical studies at age six and since “there were always musicians around our home it seemed quite natural for me to join in the fun (and hard work).”

A decade later the Jerusalem Quartet was formed and now is consistently winning praise for performances around the world.

Kam has lived in New York City and Berlin, as an expatriate Israeli, for 17 years. This explains his perfect English and clear understanding of cultural norms well beyond his own home country.

Reminding us that the quartet is on the road at least two weeks of each month, Kam said “we could never do this if we didn’t continue to enjoy it, because the work is so hard.”

Commenting on the acoustics of the new Conrad, Kam said the group could tell immediately how splendid the venue is for chamber music.

The quartet began their current U.S. tour on the West Coast and then heads into the American heartland before major performances at Washington’s Kennedy Center later this month.

Barry Jagoda, an award-winning broadcast journalist, was special assistant to President Carter for media and public affairs. He is a 1967 graduate of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and lives in La Jolla.