Elias-Axel Pettersson at the piano

The East Valley Jewish Community Center, Temple Beth Sholom of the East Valley and Temple Emanuel of Tempe are partnering to present a live virtual piano recital at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 25.

Elias-Axel Pettersson, founder of Southwest Piano Festival, will perform works by Jewish composers and other monumental figures, taking a cultural tour through time.

“I try to organize events that are bringing the Jewish community together — and one such event is this,” Pettersson said.

Pettersson grew up in a Jewish home and community in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“I have a connection to the faith and also just to the history and the culture and the traditions surrounding it,” he said. “There is some spirituality in music, and I feel like bringing that to more people is important.”

As an artist and musician, he often creates programs around themes. He began building his repertoire of Jewish music about six years ago.

“When I play for synagogues or JCCs, I always get asked, ‘Can you play Jewish music?’ And I’m always a little confused by that,” he said. “When I play at other organizations or churches I’m never asked to play Christian music.”

He decided to define Jewish music by a piece’s composer, and he was happy to learn that Felix Mendelssohn, a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor, was Jewish.

“Mendelssohn has been very, very famous to me,” Pettersson said. “I played some of his pieces as a kid.” But he only discovered that the composer was Jewish several years ago. He will perform Mendelssohn’s “Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 14” on April 25.

“It’s nice to get some of these pieces out in the public and heard more often,” he said.

The EVJCC, TBSEV and Temple Emanuel are providing this event for those who are missing live concerts during the COVID-19 pandemic and to raise funds for those in the community who are experiencing financial hardship, the three groups said in a joint statement.

The concert is free, but donations are being accepted to help those in need. Registration is required. To register, go to tbsev.org/2021-piano-recital. JN

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