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More than just music: Itzhak Perlman brings stories to Wharton Center

Itzhak Perlman Credit Lisa Marie Mazzucco.jpeg
Lisa Marie Mazzucco
/
Courtesy photo
Itzhak Perlman performs Tuesday at MSU's Wharton Center

Legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman appears Tuesday at Michigan State University’s Wharton Center.

Perlman has led an extraordinary life. He was born in Israel in 1945 and performed on the Ed Sullivan television show at the age of 13. Through more than six decades in the public eye, he’s played and conducted at major classical music venues all over the world. He’s a Kennedy Center honoree who also has 16 Grammy Awards and four Emmys.

At the Wharton Center, he’ll play with long-time collaborator Rohan de Silva in a recital punctuated by stories, photos and videos from his life.

“There’s going to be some videos in the background and so on, so it’s going to be like a…how do I describe it? It’s just going to be a little bit of everything,” Perlman explained. “An evening spent with me talking about things that happened, events in my life, as well as playing.”

Perlman says he likes this fresh approach. He’s always enjoyed communicating with his audiences, communication that inspired this program.

“One thing went into another,” he said. “Why don’t we show some interesting videos of things that happened in my life on previous occasions and so on and so forth? So one thing led to another, and I’m really very happy with how it turned out.”

This approach is reminiscent of the VH1 television production Storytellers. In Perlman’s case, this is unscripted.

“I just have the subjects, and I talk about the subjects and what happened to me and so on,” Perlman said. “If you were to go see this program two or three different nights, you will see things where they’re not exactly the same.”

Perlman doesn’t take questions during these recitals, and he doesn’t want to give away anything about the pieces he’ll perform.

“The selections that I’m playing have to do with the events that took place, and so I always connect the selections to the events,” Perlman added. “In other words, if I say, 'Well, I did this and this and this,' and then I played that particular piece, and so on, so everything is going to be connected.”

There are hints about what Perlman has played elsewhere. One piece you might hear is Fritz Kreisler’s Tambourin Chinois. And another Kreisler piece, Tempo di Minuetto, could turn up.

In essence, expect the unexpected. Perlman doesn’t want people to be disappointed if he decides to do something else. The key, to him, is spontaneity. He concluded by saying simply: “I can tell you that everybody’s going to have a good time.”

An Evening with Itzhak Perlman begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Wharton Center.

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