Carnegie Hall Salutes Isaac Stern

It was Isaac Stern's last standing ovation at Carnegie Hall. After some six decades and 200 performances there, Stern was gone. And yet he wasn't. A month after his death at age 81, the man who preven

It was Isaac Stern's last standing ovation at Carnegie Hall. After some six decades and 200 performances there, Stern was gone. And yet he wasn't. A month after his death at age 81, the man who prevented one of America's citadels of culture from being turned into an office tower was remembered yesterday (Oct. 30) with a free concert inside the auditorium named for him.

The Isaac Stern Auditorium's 2,800 seats were all filled, and 400 other people watched the concert via closed-circuit TV elsewhere in the 110-year-old building. "Welcome to Isaac Stern's favorite room," Carnegie Hall board chairman Sanford I. Weill told the audience. "Isaac loved to say what made Carnegie Hall so special was the spirit of Tchaikovsky, Horowitz, Toscanini, and countless others in these walls. ... Now Isaac joins those spirits within Carnegie Hall."

Weill's were the only words from the stage about Stern, one of the 20th-century's leading violinists who -- in addition to his extraordinary ear for music -- had an eye for young talent and a gift for speech. The music did the speaking Tuesday. The construction workers building the subterranean Zankel Hall addition halted their efforts, making way for Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma, Midori and other top musicians who paid tribute to the man who helped cultivate their talents and guide their stellar careers.

In a fitting tribute to the future, these performers were joined by 24-year-old violist Jessica Thompson and 23-year-old cellist Efe Baltacigil, who participated in the last two Isaac Stern chamber music workshops.


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