Itzhak Perlman, Students Ring In A New Year of Music

Gifted music students create inspired music under the direction of celebrated conductor and violinist Itzhak Perlman.

For an up-close and personal glimpse of some of the most talented young musicians in the world, you need look no further than the Celebration Concert at the Sarasota Opera House on Saturday, Jan. 5.

In this presentation of The Perlman Music Program (PMP)/Suncoast, 36 gifted music students will perform a collection of musical pieces under the direction of classical musician Itzhak Perlman. The concert itself is the culmination of a two-week residency program in which the students undergo intense training and rehearsals with Perlman and other staff members.

According to Elizabeth Power, executive director of the PMP/Suncoast, many of this season’s group of student performers are traveling quite a distance to participate in this special musical program.

“They come from all over the world, including Israel, Taiwan, England, Canada, Hungary, Norway, France, China, Japan and the United States,” she said. “The Winter Residency Program offers unparalleled musical training for students, ages 12 to 20, who come from around the world to study and play violin, viola, cello and bass.”

The Sarasota Winter Residency’s public events include orchestra and chorus rehearsals, master classes, and works-in-progress student recitals, which attract more than 13,000 people each year. A complete schedule of the events can be found online, and Q&A sessions with the Perlmans and PMP students and faculty follow many of these events.

All of the free events take place in a heated outdoor performance tent on the grounds of the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, at 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. A student recital will also be held at Harvest United Methodist Church, 14305 Covenant Way, Lakewood Ranch, on Saturday, Dec. 29, at 7 p.m.

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Leading up to the concert are the two weeks of rehearsals, in which Perlman pares down the musical pieces and, along with the students, creates the show that will eventually be presented to an audience. Suncoast residents have a wonderfully unique opportunity to witness a concert in the making by attending these rehearsals.

“It’s fascinating to experience the creative process at work,” Power said. “It's especially relevant if audiences were able to witness the rehearsals with Mr. Perlman on the campus of USF Sarasota-Manatee, which precedes this concert. Attending the rehearsals truly does make the Celebration Concert all that more special."

The Perlman Music Program/Suncoast was established in May 2008 as an independent non-profit organization with the mission to provide operational stability and funding support for a permanent Sarasota winter residency for The Perlman Music Program. Founded by Toby Perlman, and with world-renowned faculty members led by her husband Itzhak Perlman, The Perlman Music Program augments its six-week summer program in Shelter Island, N.Y., with this December program in Sarasota. But Perlman’s musical influence on the Suncoast does not end there.

“Outside of the main PMP Sarasota Winter Residency, the Perlman Music Program/Suncoast also presents an Education Outreach Program, bringing PMP alumni into local schools in Sarasota and Manatee counties to serve as teaching and performing artists,” Power said. “The alumni perform curriculum-based concerts for fifth and sixth grade students to assist with recruiting students into school music programs, and they work hands-on in music classrooms with middle school and high school orchestra students.” 

Power added that those PMP alumni also perform public concerts as part of the newest PMP/Suncoast programmatic offering entitled the Emerging Artists Performance Series. PMP alumni are usually in town in November, February, and May.

Power says that the Sarasota Winter Residency program offers not only an artistic and personal experience for the students, but also for the audience who gets to watch Perlman conduct and the students perform.

“The Celebration Concert is a rare and remarkable opportunity for audience members to experience a legendary musical talent directing young, profoundly talented musicians,” she said. “It’s a moving celebration of the continuity of classical music.”

The Perlman Music Program/Suncoast Celebration Concert

Saturday, January 5, at 5 p.m.

Sarasota Opera House, 61 North Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236

Tickets for the concert are $40, $60, $80, and can be reserved at Sarasota Opera House’s box office at 941-366-8450, Ext 1, or online.


Free Events

Audience members are invited to show up 15 minutes prior to an event to ensure seating. PMP/Suncoast also offers an online e-ticket program for a $5 service charge per ticket. E-tickets are available at www.PMPSuncoast.org or by calling 941-955-4942.

Friday, December 28

11 a.m. Cello master class

5 p.m.: Chorus rehearsal

7 p.m.: Orchestra rehearsal

Saturday, December 29

7 p.m.: Student recital

Off-campus: Harvest United Methodist Church, Lakewood Ranch

Sunday, December 30

5 p.m.: Chorus rehearsal

7 p.m.: Orchestra rehearsal 

Monday, December 31 
6 pm: Student recital

Wednesday, January 2

11 a.m.: Viola master class

5 p.m.: Chorus rehearsal 
7 p.m.: Student recital 
Thursday, January 3

11 a.m.: Cello master class

5 p.m.: Orchestra rehearsal

7 p.m.: Student recital

Friday, January 4
3:30 p.m.: Kid’s Day at PMP/S (Orchestra rehearsal) 
5 p.m.: Chorus rehearsal

7 p.m.: Student recital


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