Elijah Ho, in an interview with Ara Guzelimian, touched upon the recent controversy about the violinist Isaac Stern. Here’s what came back:
‘All I can say is that in my experience of him, Mr. Stern was the single most tireless advocate of music, in general, and young artists, specifically, that I’ve ever experienced. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for a young musician who asked his help or advice. I think you don’t have to look very far for an astonishing number of accomplished artists who he mentored and advocated for in his life.
‘I’ll tell you one little story that was not meant to have ever been witnessed. In a back hallway at Carnegie Hall, I chanced upon him in intense conversation with a young violinist at one of the chamber music workshops that he ran at Carnegie Hall. He was extremely frustrated that this young man was being held back in his potential by what he felt was a very poor instrument. Mr. Stern had brought one of his own violins to lend to the young man for the next six months, so that the young man could see what was possible with a much more responsive, higher-quality instrument.
‘The only reason I ever became aware of this incident was because I stumbled into it. It was completely out of sight. The young man was a good but not astoundingly great violinist, and he looked flabbergasted that Isaac Stern was handing him one of his own violins to live with for the next six months. Anybody in any profession who wields authority and power – and Mr. Stern certainly held both – can always be second-guessed. The measure of any of our lives is the good that we do. By any standard, the extraordinary good that Isaac Stern did is boundless.’
Read the full interview here.