If you ask 35-year-old violinist Daniel Hope about his Jewish heritage, make sure you have time. It’s a complicated question.
“On my mother’s side was an incredibly Orthodox Jewish family that goes back to the first rabbi of Potsdam,” he said during a recent late-night cell phone call while in transit to Hamburg, Germany, for a concert the next day.
It's not very often that a classical music recital has its roots in an airport, but in a manner of speaking, you might say that the concert that violin virtuosi Albert and Alexander Markov are giving at American Jewish University (AJU) on April 13 was born at LAX 15 years ago.
Classical virtuosos, like golden-age movie stars, are often thought to lead charmed lives in which the sundry benefits of celebrity accrue without cost. Lives of endless glamour are a fantasy, of course, yet the suggestion persists, in part because of musicians like Gil Shaham, the American Israeli violinist who comes to the Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday, July 10, to perform Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and guest conductor Leonard Slatkin.
Bell is, by his own admission, more of a cultural Jew than a religious one. "My mother is Jewish, a very typical Jewish mother," he said. "She was very involved in my practicing. Both my parents were behind me and loved music. But for me, Jewishness was very much a cultural tie. I feel very close to the Jewish side of the family. I grew up with my Jewish cousins, going to all the bar mitzvahs, so I feel very close to that side, and I identify myself as being Jewish."
For Israeli violinist Miri Ben-Ari, doing the unexpected is standard fodder; so it should come as no surprise that her new single, "Symphony of Brotherhood" (featuring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech weaving in and out of an extended string solo) topped the charts just one month after its radio release.
The great violinist, Itzhak Perlman, suffered from polio as a child and ever since has been in a wheelchair. On one occasion, while performing a violin concerto, one of the strings broke. It occurred in the very first movement with an audible ping. Everyone waited to see what he would do. With astonishing virtuosity, he continued as if nothing had happened, playing through to the finale using only the remaining three strings.
Janet Williams, a past president of City of Hope's auxiliaryÂ division, Gems of Hope, died on Feb. 9, 2003. She was 84.