September 29, 2020

From Mao to Mozart:

Celebrating Isaac Stern with his son David
Zoom video conference
Watch the video below

2020 marks Isaac Stern’s centenary. As part of a celebration of the world-famous violinist, his son David Stern, founder and conductor of Opera Fuoco, will talk about his father and present a screening of From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China. The film, which documents Stern's historical trip to China during the cultural revolution, received an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1981.

This event is in conjunction with a concert in honor of Isaac Stern on October 1 at the Philharmonie de Paris.

Born in the Ukraine, Isaac Stern was 14 months old when he was brought to the United States, where he went on to become one of the world’s most distinguished violinists. His repertoire was immense: in a career of more than 60 years, he performed and recorded virtually the entire classical violin repertoire, many of the great violin concertos of the 1930s, as well as contemporary works—repertoire that ranged at minimum from Vivaldi to Dutilleux. Of Isaac Stern, Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians writes, “Stern remained faithful to the creed of those virtuosos to whom fame is a natural adjunct to talent and industry.”

Isaac Stern was also a gifted and generous mentor. Hearing Yo-Yo Ma and Pinkas Zuckerman play when they were children, he recognized their exceptional talent and went on to support their career and give them performing opportunities. Stern was also a dedicated to cultural enrichment and an advocate for the role of the arts in society and human rights. When Carnegie Hall was threatened with demolition in 1960, Stern spearheaded the campaign to save it and thereafter served as its first president. In Israel, he supported projects that include the America-Israel Foundation and the Jerusalem Music Center.

Isaac Stern also worked in Hollywood, where he dubbed actors impersonating violinists, most notably in Fiddler on the Roof.

Among his many honors, Isaac Stern was named Officier de la Légion d’honneur in France, received the Kennedy Center Honors Award in the United States, and the Wolf Prize in Israel. In 1992, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’s highest civilian award, given to individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

David Stern, like his father, has also made his life in music, with a career in musical leadership that spans there continents. He is the founder and director of Opera Fuoco, the Paris-based international opera company and young artist program dedicated to lyric repertoire from the mid-18th century to the present, chief conductor of the Palm Beach Opera in Florida, artistic adviser and chief conductor of the Shanghai Baroque Festival and director of the newly founded Heifetz Baroque Program in Staunton Virginia. Since 2016, he has been co-chair of the Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition jury. Whether conducting a romantic opera, a baroque oratorio or a classical symphony, teaching vocal master classes or defending cultural activities, David Stern shares with colleagues and audiences his strong musical convictions and his belief that music is relevant and indeed essential in today’s world.

Organized by The Arts Arena, this event is co-sponsored by the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination and Columbia Global Centers | Paris.


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