December 14, 2015

Itzhak Perlman awarded the 2016 Genesis Prize, the 'Jewish Nobel'

The preeminent violinist of our time honoured as musician, teacher, and advocate for special needs individuals.

The Genesis Prize Foundation today announced that world-renowned violinist and Warner Classics recording artist, Itzhak Perlman, has been selected as the 2016 Genesis Prize Laureate. The Genesis Prize is a $1 million annual award given to individuals who have achieved extraordinary professional success, have made a significant contribution to humanity, and inspire others through their engagement and dedication to the Jewish community.

“I am humbled and honoured to receive the Genesis Prize, recognising not just my professional achievements and my desire to improve the world, but also my commitment to my Jewish identity, Jewish values, and Jewish culture,” said Itzhak Perlman. “I have always been very proud of my Jewish heritage, which has greatly influenced my music, my world view, and my work as an advocate for individuals whom society often leaves behind.”

"Itzhak is a true citizen of the world," said Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access industries, which owns Warner Music Group. "He has not only moved millions of listeners with his transcendent music, but he has changed countless lives through his passionate commitment to the Jewish community, to those in need across the globe, and to young musical talent. This is a richly deserved recognition of an extraordinary artist and an exceptional human being."

“As a musician, as well as a community leader, we’re incredibly proud of everything Itzhak has accomplished,” said Alain Lanceron, President, Warner Classics. “I speak for the entire Warner Classics team when I say it is a privilege to work alongside such an esteemed individual. Congratulations, Itzhak.”

The announcement of his Genesis Prize award comes on the heels of Itzhak Perlman’s receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 25.  Two other US presidents – Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton – have previously recognised Perlman by awarding him the Medal of Liberty and the National Medal of Arts, in 1986 and 2000 respectively. Perlman has also won multiple Grammy Awards for this musicianship, including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. To view Itzhak Perlman’s full biography, visit the Genesis Prize website.

Warner Classics marked Itzhak Perlman's 70th birthday this year with a boxed set of his complete recordings made for EMI and Teldec over more than 30 years, totalling some 59 albums. Among these critically acclaimed discs is the 1996 classic Klezmer and Tradition, in which Perlman explores his Jewish musical heritage with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and bands including The Klezmatics and The Andy Statman Klezmer Orchestra. Perlman's parents were from Poland and in these albums he explores the secular music of Eastern Europe's Jews, and the American evolution of traditional klezmer in jazz.

The inaugural Genesis Prize was awarded in 2014 to New York Mayor and one of the world’s leading philanthropists, Michael Bloomberg. Academy-award winning actor, producer and peace activist Michael Douglas received this prestigious award in 2015. The Genesis Prize — endowed by the Genesis Prize Foundation and awarded annually by the Prime Minister of Israel — was established by a unique partnership among the Office of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Genesis Prize Foundation, and the Office of the Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

The Laureate of the Genesis Prize is selected from a list of candidates nominated by leaders of hundreds of institutions and organisations worldwide, including leading universities, major foundations, Fortune 500 corporations, international NGO's and top Jewish organisations. Upon receipt of the nominations for the Prize, the Selection Committee, headed by the Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel (currently Natan Sharansky), selects a short list of candidates and the Prize Committee, headed by Knesset Speaker (currently Yuli Edelstein), selects the Laureate.

Itzhak Perlman intends to direct the prize money to initiatives about which he is passionate, including improving access for individuals with disabilities and developing young musicians of rare and special talent. Further details of Perlman’s plans for directing the Genesis Prize award will be revealed in February.