Perlman dazzles Iowa Rotarians
Itzhak Perlman performs to a sold-out audience at the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa 8 November. Photo by Randy Darst
Violin virtuoso and polio survivor Itzhak Perlman received two standing ovations during a sold-out performance 8 November at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA, before an audience of 1,800, including 260 Rotarians.
The concert was sponsored by the Rotary clubs of Cedar Falls, Waterloo, and Waverly as a fundraiser to benefit Rotary's efforts to eradicate polio. The clubs and individual members contributed $10,000 for the event, with proceeds going toward Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge.
Perlman performed a variety of music, from Beethoven to Gershwin, and filled the second half of the 90-minute performance with pieces drawn from a stack of music at his side. Afterward, he met with Iowa Rotarians and polio survivor Doug Oberman, a retired attorney and Cedar Falls resident.
"Listening to Perlman play transcends every experience you have ever had with that instrument," says Steven Carignan, executive director of the university's Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center and president of the Waterloo club. "He sets the standard for playing the violin that everyone will be measured against.
"When you hear a human being surpass what you previously thought people capable of, it makes you begin to think you may be capable of more than you thought," he adds.
Perlman will also perform 2 December with the New York Philharmonic in the Concert to End Polio, a benefit performance supporting the global effort to eradicate the disease. The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. Buy tickets.
Robert S. Scott, chair of the International PolioPlus Committee, spoke at a presentation before the 8 November concert, saying improved vaccines and stronger support from government leaders in endemic countries are among the recent developments to help bring wild poliomyelitis under control.
Scott said scientists have been able to reformulate the oral vaccine to be more effective against two of the three strains of the wild poliovirus. He added that pending government approvals, the new bivalent vaccine could be used in India soon.
Another development has been improved relations with government leaders in the four countries where polio is still endemic. "I was in Pakistan in August and October -- the first time to ask the president to 'flag,' or support, National Immunization Days in two weeks, then again to participate in the event."
Worldwide, the number of polio cases has dropped from more than 350,000 in 1988, when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative began, to 1,651 in 2008. The remaining 1 percent of cases are the most difficult and expensive to prevent, however. That is why continued support for Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge, which is close to reaching the halfway mark in funding, is crucial to the initiative's success.
Rotarian Dave Buck contributed to this report.
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