It was a momentous occasion for the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s annual Carnegie Hall concert on Feb. 22. It marked the orchestra’s 75th anniversary, conductor Zubin Mehta’s 75th birthday, and his 50th year as IPO conductor.
At the post-concert dinner at the Plaza Hotel, hosted by the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, vice president and benefit co-chair Lauren Veronis couldn’t praise the maestro enough.
“No one will ever forget when the scuds were raining down on Israel, you were on assignment in Europe and you jumped on a plane to be with your orchestra in Israel,” Ms. Veronis said. “While the scuds were falling you were playing.
“Not only are you a brilliant maestro, you have humor, humanity and humility. On Behalf of everyone here, thank you for 50 years.”
“Fifty years is not even half of a hundert uhn tsvantsik,” Maestro Mehta, a native of Bombay, India, remarked. He is the orchestra’s music director for life.
“We gave more than 3,000 concerts over the last 50 years,” he added. “There is a spiritual level to music. When I’m conducting, I’m not standing on the podium — I’m floating.”
Among the black-tie guests were AFIPO president David and Rochelle Hirsch, executive director Suzanne Ponsot, Marvin Hamlisch and Terre Blair, Jo Carole and Ronald Lauder, Elaine and Richard Hirsch, Gail Propp, Dr. Philip and Florence Felig, Lauren and John Veronis, Marion and Elie Wiesel, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, Malcolm Thomson, and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren.
Tim Boxer is editor of 15MinutesMagazine.com.