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Itzhak Perlman workshop turns 20

Written by on Thursday, January 11, 2024

WSLR News joins this year’s crop of young musicians for rehearsals

By Ramon Lopez

Original Air Date: Jan. 10, 2024

Host: This is the 20th year violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman is in town for the Perlman Music Program Winter Residency. WSLR reporter Ramon Lopez joined this year’s crop of youth musicians in a rehearsal.

[soundbite rehearsal music]

Toby and Itzhak Perlman. Photo: Lopez

Lopez:  This year marked a major milestone for acclaimed violinist and conductor Itzhak Perlman: the 20th anniversary of the Perlman Music Program Winter Residency, which provides unparalleled music training for gifted young musicians.

Each December, music students from around the world gather on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus for free lessons, recitals, chorus and orchestra rehearsals under the watchful eye of Maestro Perlman and his wife Toby. The pair work with the youngsters in a heated tent on the campus, underlined by the noise of airplanes taking off from the nearby airport. Audiences are invited to watch Perlman work.

Soundbite Perlman speaking, more rehearsal

RL: On Jan. 6, the students and faculty in the winter residency presented a “Celebration Concert” at the Sarasota Opera House.

The string orchestra was under the direction of Perlman. The chorus was led by Patrick Romano. He is choral director at Sarah Lawrence College and conducts at The Julliard School Pre-College Division. Everybody sings in the chorus, including the Perlmans.

Chorus rehearsal music

Perlman was born in Tel Aviv in 1945 and discovered the violin at age three. Despite contracting polio, he mastered the instrument and went on to perform on the Ed Sullivan Show at a very young age. He would move to New York’s Upper West Side where he still lives, but he comes each year to Sarasota to nurture young musicians. The Perlman Music Program, launched in 1994, is the brainchild of Toby.

This year’s crop of young musicians came from the U.S., Canada, the Philippines, China, Norway and Israel. Photo: Lopez

This year’s class included 28 classical music teen violinists, violists, cellists, bassists and pianists. They hailed from the United States, Canada, the Philippines, China and Norway. Six came from war-torn Israel.

Perlman’s fame goes beyond classical music. Some have seen him on Sesame Street or at Madison Square Garden appearing alongside Billy Joel. He recorded a jazz album with Oscar Peterson. And you might have teared up listening to the theme from Schindler’s List.

Blended Schindler’s List theme music

RL: New York Times music writer Corinna da Fonseca Wollheim perhaps said it best: “On television, Mr. Perlman proved a natural communicator, advocating for music and disability rights with a winning combination of self-deprecating charm and self-assurance. In 1993, it was his violin that deepened the pathos of the Schindler’s List theme, which for a vast swath of listeners remains his signature tune.”

This is Ramon Lopez for WSLR News.


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