2011 has proven to be a good year for cellists with Boston connections, with a Tchaikovsky Competition Gold Medal for Narek Hakhnazaryan. The trend continued today when the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced that Alisa Weilerstein is one of 22 people chosen to receive so-called "genius grants." The awards of $500,000, paid over five years, are given on the basis of "creativity, originality and potential to make important contributions in the future,” according to a New York Times interview with Robert Gallucci, the president of the MacArthur Foundation.
Weilerstein, whose parents, Donald and Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, are on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music, has rocketed to the front rank of concert soloists in the last few years, appearing with many major orchestras, including last month's appearance at Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
She visited our Fraser Performance Studio in 2008, and you can hear that performance in the Live From Fraser archive, and there is more on the story at NPR Music.
In 2010, she was invited to perform Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto in her debut with the Berlin Philharmonic. Significantly, the conductor was Daniel Barenboim, whose late wife, Jacqueline DuPré, was closely identified with that piece. Here is an interview from that week:
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