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Famous violinist Itzhak Perlman returns to MU

Sunday, October 5, 2008 | 5:37 p.m. CDT; updated 8:37 p.m. CDT, Sunday, October 5, 2008

COLUMBIA — Ticket holders who have waited the better part of a year, including a months-long postponement, will at last see and hear one of the world's great violinists in concert.

Itzhak Perlman's performance at Jesse Auditorium has been sold out since January. He was scheduled to perform March 9 but canceled because of a shoulder injury.

"Mr. Perlman, certainly the greatest violinist of his generation, has made a unique contribution to our art in the second half of the 20th century," said Eva Szekely, professor of violin and chamber music at MU who will be among the 1,770 or so in the audience Monday evening. "His unique artistry and wide-ranging repertoire as a recording artist is an invaluable legacy for generations to come."

Perlman, 63, made his American debut on "Ed Sullivan's Caravan of Stars" in 1959 at 13 playing "The Flight of the Bumble Bee" and the last movement in Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto.  From there, he received a scholarship to the Juilliard School. In 1963, he made his professional debut at Carnegie Hall.

Perlman became more widely known for playing the haunting theme in Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List"; the score, by John Williams, won an Academy Award in 1994.

"Mr. Perlman's interpretations are profoundly personal, filled with a distinctively rich tone and brilliant virtuosity," said Szekely, who attended Juilliard and has known Perlman and his wife, Toby, since then.

Anne Katherine Robinson, an MU junior majoring in piano performance, also has tickets to Perlman's concert.

"To be a part of the audience ... is a privilege I'll be able to tell my children about," she said.

Robinson said she admires Perlman's humility.

"Musicianship is as real a craft as any other art form, meaning it is by a people and for a people and takes great discipline and talent to do it well," Robinson said. "Perlman holds (his art) up for what it is without any pretense or arrogance."

Perlman has performed at MU at least two other times, most recently in October 1998. Szekely said Perlman's contributions reach far beyond making beautiful music.

"Mr. Perlman, through his work as a performer and teacher," Szekely said, "not only represents but is passing along the best traditions of the American school of violin playing to younger generations."


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