November 17, 2015

Obama awards Itzhak Perlman the ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom’

On 24 November, the President will present the great American violinist with the highest US civilian Accolade.

Israeli-born American violinist Itzhak Perlman has been chosen as one of 17 recipients of this year's Presidential Medal of Freedom, to be awarded in a ceremony on 24 November.

The awards celebrate important lifelong contributions to security, world peace, and the arts: President Obama described Perlman and other recipients from the cultural sphere as "artists who expanded our imaginations...enriched our lives and helped define our shared experience as Americans."

The accolade comes the year of Perlman's 70th birthday celebrations, which has seen his complete Warner Classics catalogue of iconic recordings released in a collectors' boxed set. He has dazzled generations of music-lovers in repertoire as diverse as Paganini's Caprices and soulful klezmer, collaborating with some of the greatest musicians of the last century - Daniel Barenboim, Yo-Yo Ma, Isaac Stern and André Previn - who Perlman counts among his closest friends.

The prize also acknowledges his contribution to the future of classical music and his generosity to young artists through his teaching activities at the Juilliard School in New York. In 1994, with his wife Toby, he founded the Perlman Music Program, an intensive summer school and mentoring program for talented young string players.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom committee said of Perlman in an official announcement: "Itzhak Perlman is a treasured conductor and sought-after teacher. Among his many achievements are four Emmy Awards, 16 Grammy Awards, and the 2008 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He was awarded a National Medal of Arts in 2000 and a Kennedy Center Honor in 2003. A native of Israel, he came to the United States at a young age and was introduced to Americans broadly when he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1958. Mr. Perlman made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1963 when he was 18. In addition to performing internationally and recording the classical music for which he is best known...Perlman has been the soloist for a number of film scores such as Schindler's List, which subsequently won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. Alongside his wife Toby, Mr. Perlman teaches talented young musicians through the Perlman Music Program. Through his advocacy and his example, he has been an important voice on behalf of persons with disabilities."

Alongside Mr Perlman, other 2015 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom include composer Stephen Sondheim, director Stephen Spielberg, and singers Barbara Streisand and Gloria Estefan.