Grammy-winning pianist to receive Israeli citizenship

Moscow-native Evgeny Kissin, a vocal supporter, won’t live in Israel, but wants to identify with state

Evgeny Kissin  at a concert in Tel Aviv on December 24, 2011 (photo credit: CC BY-SA Levg, Wikimedia Commons)
Evgeny Kissin at a concert in Tel Aviv on December 24, 2011 (photo credit: CC BY-SA Levg, Wikimedia Commons)

Acclaimed Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin will be granted Israeli citizenship in a special ceremony on Saturday evening in Jerusalem.

Internal Affairs Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Minister of Immigration and Absorption Sofa Landver, and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky are set to hand the world-famous musician and proud Israel advocate his Israeli identification card at the event.

Though Kissin, 42, has no plans to reside permanently in Israel, the Moscow native was granted approval by senior government officials for his citizenship request, which he filed for last year.

“There are other Jewish musicians who reach Kissin’s level of musical talent, but it isn’t every day that so acclaimed a musician joins the fight for Israel so openly and so uncompromisingly,” Sharansky was quoted as saying in a Jewish Agency press release.

In a statement, Kissin said he wanted to identify as Israeli, and take on Israel’s “problems, tragedies and very destiny,” according to Tom Gross, a friend of Kissin who published the statement on his website.

“When Israel’s enemies try to disrupt concerts of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra or the Jerusalem Quartet, I want them to come and make troubles at my concerts, too: because Israel’s case is my case, Israel’s enemies are my enemies, and I do not want to be spared of the troubles which Israeli musicians encounter when they represent the Jewish State beyond its borders,” Kissin said.

Kissin has won numerous awards in his decades of playing music, including a Grammy in 2006 for a recording of works by Scriabin, Medtner and Stravinsky.

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