There was a party in the wings of Southam Hall on Tuesday evening. The musicians of the National Arts Centre's Orchestra toasted Music Director Pinchas Zukerman's 65th birthday, and reflected on his role in bringing out the best in them, and in musicians not only in Canada but around the world.
Pinchas, or Pinkie, as he is known to his nearest and dearest, arrived at the NAC in 1998 with some big dreams. He wanted to build on the NAC's tradition of excellence, instilled by its first Music Director Mario Bernardi, and he wanted to create a new tradition of teaching young people.
Through the Summer Music Institute, Pinchas has taught more than 1,000 young musicians from around the world, he's also sent NAC musicians to the farthest reaches of Canada to teach in communities like Pangnirtung, Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet. Ten years ago he pioneered the use of broadband video conference technology as a means to teach young people everywhere. From a small studio in Ottawa, Pinchas can now conduct master classes with kids in New York, Tel Aviv, or Beijing. He often says, "I love talent, finding it, developing it, and seeing it grow."
When I first started at the NAC four years ago, after leaving the world of journalism, I had no idea how extensive the NAC's work in education was ... much of it inspired by the friendship between Pinchas and the NAC's President, Peter Herrndorf.
So, thank you Pinchas for bringing the world's best young musicians to Ottawa, and for propelling their careers around world. From me, and everyone that you inspire every day, we wish you a very Happy Birthday.