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Itzhak Perlman

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Perlman recital marvelous

News-Journal Fine Arts Writer

DAYTONA BEACH — From start to finish, the recital violinist Itzhak Perlman presented Tuesday with pianist Rohan de Silva was a marvel.

Itzhak Perlman performs at the Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach, Fla. on Tuesday, February 8, 2005. (Photo: News-Journal/Craig Litten)

That was no surprise -- since his first appearance in Daytona Beach, for the 1967 Florida International Festival, Perlman has soared to the very heights of virtuosity and, at the same time, celebrity on a broader level.

Still, his Central Florida Cultural Endeavors concert brought more to Peabody Auditorium than sheer musical excellence. It offered a remarkable glimpse of an artist's life in music, of Perlman's collaboration with a fellow faculty member at the Juilliard School and of their reverence for their music.

The beautifully balanced program opened with a particularly tender, lucid performance of Mozart's Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 21 in E minor. Then it shifted to the more powerful passions of Beethoven's Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 9 in A major ("Kreutzer"), a substantial piece in which fervent, almost fevered passages seemed to melt into elegant whimsy.

The mood was lighter in "Episodes for Violin and Piano," the spare, ethereal work by Florida composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich that Perlman and de Rohan premiered in Clearwater a year ago. Written for Perlman, it set his violin's luminous, airy notes against the piano's spare, edgy response in an arch, witty post-modern musical dialogue.

To round off a profoundly satisfying recital, Perlman slid smoothly into the warmly melancholy tones of Smetana's "From the Homeland." It was an inspired choice for a chamber recital that was presented in a large concert hall; the wistful qualities underlying a piece written after the Czech composer became deaf were enhanced by the sense of distance between Peabody's stage and the auditorium's farthest rows.

Still, Perlman and de Rohan held their own, offering a brilliantly lucid, articulate performance. The two musicians, well paired as they deftly set several series of complex, urbane instrumental conversations in motion and then let them spin in exquisite, joyous patterns, seemed to share an essential reverence for their music.

But, just as crucial for their superb recital, they also seemed to revel in the freedom their absolute musical mastery allowed them.

Friday, February 4, 2005

Inside the mind of Itzhak Perlman

News-Journal Fine Arts Writer

Itzhak Perlman is as much an international celebrity as a violin virtuoso, thanks to the 1958 Ed Sullivan appearance that launched the Israeli native, at age 13, gigs on the "The Tonight Show" and recitals at the Nixon, Carter, Reagan and Clinton White Houses.

Then there's Perlman's advocacy for Israel, his "Schindler's List" solos, performances of Scott Joplin rags, recordings with a klezmer band playing what's been called Jewish soul music, last year's memorial service for Fred Rogers, star of "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" -- even a 1980 singing role in "Tosca," with Placido Domingo and Renata Scotto.

Perlman, who was born in Tel Aviv and lost the use of his legs to polio when he was 4, also won respect for triumphing over adversity. The 59-year-old performer, conductor and teacher recently discussed music and its influence in an interview with The News-Journal.

Q: When and why did you choose the violin?

I chose when I was 3. I simply heard the sound on the radio and it was terrific and something I wanted to do. I thought it was neat, but everybody said I was too young and that I should wait. Then I had the polio, but it affected only my legs and so, a little after I was 4, I started to play, on a 1/16th size violin or quarter size. I was tiny.

Q: How do you deal with the demands of celebrity?

It's difficult in some ways and easy in others. I like my privacy, obviously, but if I'm sitting someplace and somebody thinks they recognize me, I deal with it. Most people are very nice about it; I just deal with it.

Q: Do you have a favorite composer or composition?

I'm in the field of music so, luckily, I really don't have composers I truly hate. Well, there might be two or three I truly hate. I like to say they remind me of endive -- do you know endive? That bitter lettuce? I feel that way about them, but I won't name them.

Q: What about a hobby?

Oh, eating. I like everything. Eating and wine. I love eating and I love wine. If I had to pick a special wine, I might say the 1947 Cheval Blanc, a wonderful Bordeau, I had in Florida. It all depends on how you're feeling. Maybe I'd want some interesting Burgundy from, I don't know, the 1950s, or maybe some sauterne like the ones Thomas Jefferson collected -- but I'd have to drink them with him, because otherwise they'd be too old.

Q: What is your "dream" performance -- by any artist, at any time?

Oh, well, the thing is that there are so many and, again, it all depends. I would probably have loved being at the premiere of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" in Paris, because of the riots it inspired. And I would love to have met many, many composers -- Brahms, Bach, Mozart -- especially Mozart, oh my God! But, on the other hand, it's very interesting that people in the arts, people who are geniuses like them, might disappoint if we met them. Might not that happen? Is it they as people who are so marvelous, or is it their art? Maybe we should just enjoy the art.

Q: Is there a keynote piece you're tired of being asked to play?

No, never.

Q: Do you have a favorite movie or TV show?

I watch everything -- right now, my wife and I watch a lot of television. I like the funny, funny, funny shows, like "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Q: What do you do just before a concert, to prepare for it?

Nothing at all.

Q: How do you unwind after a performance?

I don't do anything in particular. If I'm with people, I may go out to eat. If I'm alone, I may just go home and go to sleep. I'm very boring.

Q: What do you listen to on the radio, tape or CD player when stuck in traffic?

Either classical music or rock hits of the '50s.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure -- chocolate? Collecting?

Oh, eating. I really love to eat, and I eat more than is good for me.

Q: Your first Daytona Beach concert was in 1967, among your early performances, and you came back in 1968 and 1991. Does Daytona Beach stand out in any way?

Oh yes. I remember those dates with the London Symphony Orchestra and Andre Previn and all the others, so well. And I remember the wonderful festival atmosphere, at the beach.

Q: Why is music important?

It's important to all of us because music is the soul of society. And it's important to me, personally, because it's what I do and what I love. I am very lucky to make my living doing something I love so much.


World-Renowned Violinist Itzhak Perlman Graces Daytona Beach Stage for One Night Only Performance!

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 24, 2005) - Central Florida Cultural Endeavors (CFCE) is thrilled to present Maestro Itzhak Perlman in concert - a highlight of the Totally Classical! Winter Season '04/05. The maestro's performance, featuring pianist Rohan DeSilva, takes place on Tuesday, Feb. 8, at Daytona Beach's Peabody Auditorium, beginning at 7 p.m.

An extraordinary gala follows the concert as a special fundraiser benefiting the 2005 Florida International Festival featuring the London Symphony Orchestra.

Listeners will be delighted by the evening's selections, including Mozart's Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 21 in E minor, K.304; Beethoven's Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 9 in A Major ("Kreutzer"), Op. 47; Episodes for Violin and Piano by Zwilich and From the Homeland, by Smetana.

As the reigning virtuoso of the violin, Itzhak Perlman enjoys superstar status rarely afforded a classical musician. Beloved for his charm and humanity as well as his talent, he is recognized by audiences the world over. They respond not only to his flawless technique, but to the irrepressible joy he communicates while making music. His latest release from Sony Classical - Classic Perlman: Rhapsody - brings together the best of the violinist's recent recordings for the label, including chamber and symphonic music as well as classic film themes.

Born in Israel in 1945, Perlman completed his initial training at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv. He came to New York and soon was propelled into the international arena with an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1958. Following his studies at the Juilliard School with Ivan Galamian and Dorothy DeLay, Perlman won the prestigious Leventritt Competition in 1964, which led to a burgeoning worldwide career. Since then, Itzhak Perlman has appeared with every major orchestra and in recitals and festivals around the world.

During the past 10 years, Perlman has also appeared on the conductor's podium with orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the National Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic. During the 2004-2005 season, he is slated to perform more than 25 recitals internationally in cities including London, Zurich, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Boston, Washington D.C. and New York.

A major presence in the performing arts on television, Itzhak Perlman has been honored with four Emmy® Awards, most recently for the PBS documentary Fiddling for the Future. His most recent PBS appearance, Perlman in Shanghai, chronicled an unforgettable and historic visit of the Perlman Music Program to China. He also collaborated as violin soloist with film score composer John Williams in Steven Spielberg's Academy Award winning film Schindler's List. Perlman can be heard as violin soloist on composer Tan Dun's soundtrack to the film Hero.

Perlman's recordings regularly appear on the best-seller charts and have garnered 15 Grammy® Awards. His most recent releases include an all-Mozart recording with the Berlin Philharmonic, both as soloist and conductor, and a recording for Deutsche Grammophon with Perlman conducting the Israel Philharmonic.

Perlman devotes considerable time to education, both in his participation each summer in the Perlman Music Program and his teaching at the Juilliard School, where he holds the Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation Chair.

Pianist Rohan DeSilva performs frequently with Itzhak Perlman and was seen with Perlman on a PBS' Live from Lincoln Center broadcast in January 2000. Recently, DeSilva toured Japan with Perlman, and in August 2002, they toured the Far East, including performances in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Scheduled appearances with Perlman during 2004-05 season include performances in Chicago's Orchestra Hall, Boston's Symphony Hall and New York's Lincoln Center.

Ticket prices range from $37-$75. Tickets to the concert and gala are $190 per person. Gala ticket holder benefits include the best seats in Peabody Auditorium, reserved parking and a private gathering in Peabody's Rose Room after the recital. The ticket price also includes an opportunity to win a cultural voyage for two to New York, including two concert tickets to the Chicago Symphony at Carnegie Hall on Friday, May 13, 2005. Roundtrip airfare and a 2-night, 3-day stay is included in the package.

Contact the CFCE Box Office at (386) 257-7790 or visit Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 210 S. Beach St., Daytona Beach or purchase through our website at

Central Florida Cultural Endeavors, Inc. is a non-profit organization that presents a wide variety of cultural events in Volusia and Flagler counties, including a winter season of chamber music. The most prominent CFCE project is the Florida International Festival, featuring the London Symphony Orchestra, which takes place July 15-30, 2005.


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