Amit Peled is 6-foot-5, more basketball player physique than classically trained cellist.

His 1689 Andreas Guarneri cello looks almost toy-sized when he sits to play it. But when the Israeli-American cellist plays, you forget his size and the idea that he might have made quite a basketball player if he had pursued an early childhood dream. Glowing reviews of his playing suggest that when he joins the Tucson Symphony Orchestra this weekend, we will instead be transported into the dreamy beauty and technical gymnastics of Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1.

In addition to the Guarneri, Peled, who teaches at The Johns Hopkins University Peabody Conservatory of Music, also performs on Pablo Casals’ 1733 Goffriller cello, lent to him by Casals’ widow in 2012. Peled has said that he fell in love with the sound of the cello after listening to recordings of Casals playing the Goffriller.

The TSO program also includes two TSO premieres of contemporary works: Mason Bates’ “Desert Transport,” inspired by a helicopter trip from Phoenix to Sedona, and Missy Mazzoli’s “Violent, Violent Sea.” Debussy’s “La Mer” anchors the program.

Edwin Outwater, music director of Ontario’s Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, will be the guest conductor. Outwater, who regularly guest-conducts the Chicago and New World symphonies, also has conducted the New York and Los Angeles philharmonic orchestras.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642.

I cover music for the Arizona Daily Star.