David Hirsch knows how to begin a speech. He quoted a great statesman who once said, “I was asked to speak, and you are stuck in the audience. Hopefully we will finish at the same time.”
Mr. Hirsch, president of the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, presided over the New York benefit for the IPO In October at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. He introduced the conductor, the handsome Julian Rachlin, as a special treat for part of the audience: “Ladies, he is single!”
Rachlin, 39, a native of Vilnius, Lithuania, has lived in Vienna since 1978. He’s also a solo violinist, who has performed with the IPO numerous times.
The stage was set with members of the string section of the IPO. “Our orchestra,” Hirsch said, “is getting younger rather than older. This is unique in the classical music world.”
Hirsch then beamed up Mr. Spock, I mean Leonard Nimoy, who talked about the origin of the IPO. He said that the orchestra “not only brought the arts to the Jewish people in the desert but it also saved over a thousand Jews from the Holocaust.”
It was due to the courage and vision of one man, a Polish Jew named Bronislaw Huberman, “the most famous violin player in the world.” The Nazis purged Jewish musicians from orchestras across the continent, but invited Huberman to continue to work for them in Germany.
Starting in 1933 Huberman performed around the world, raising enough money to bring a thousand musicians, one by one, to the Holy Land. That was the beginning of the orchestra. It gave its first performance on December 26, 1936, under the legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini.
“A brilliant symphony starts with a single note,” Nimoy said. “A great nation starts with a single dream.”
Alan Alda served as narrator for the evening’s program of Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons to the delight of 475 concertgoers including, Jane Stern Lebell, Judith B. Resnick, Emily and Eugene Grant, Lauren and John Veronis, Claudio Pincus, Eugene Grant, Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert, Michael Steinhardt, Fanya Gottesfeld Heller, Dr. Philip and Florence Felig, Rosalind Devon and Sanford Batkin, Elaine and Richard Hirsch, Rita and Charles Bronfman, Lynn Sym and Jean Shafiroff.