On Friday night the Perlman Music Program (PMP) will celebrate 25 years of giving young musicians an unforgettable summer experience while honoring founders Toby and Itzhak Perlman at its Silver Anniversary Gala.
The quarter century benchmark is the culmination of what Ms. Perlman calls, “The second chapter of my life.”
The first chapter, Ms. Perlman said, was raising the couple’s five children before embarking on a journey to create a world-class summer camp that began when their youngest daughter was 10.
“It’s like raising kids,” Ms. Perlman said. “One day you wake up and realize they’re off to college, and you think, where did the time go?”
The gala will kick off with a beachfront reception at 6 p.m., followed by a concert at 7 p.m. featuring Mr. Perlman and Patrick Romano conducting the students. At 8 p.m., the Taste of Shelter Island dinner will be served and there’s a silent auction. At press time, the gala was “nearly sold out,” a Perlman representative said.
“This moment is so meaningful for us,” Ms. Perlman said. “When we began over two decades ago, I had a clear vision of the program I wanted to run, but it took countless individuals working tirelessly and donating again and again to bring it to life.”
It began in 1994 when the Perlmans opened their East Hampton home and arranged a local camp to host a two-week summer program for gifted teenage musicians called the Hamptons Summer Music Festival.
With producer Suki Sandler handling the fundraising, Ms. Perlman’s inaugural Summer Music School included morning practice hours, private lessons, orchestra, and chorus in a comprehensive musical curriculum unchanged to this day.
“Today, our pride and joy, our alumni, are becoming gifted artists and teachers themselves,” Ms. Perlman said. “We are so excited to hear our Littles and Workshop participants share their music as they grow.”
By 2000, a group of donors purchased the Peconic Lodge property on Crescent Beach, where the former girls camp was reshaped into the PMP campus. Merry Peckham was tapped to lead the Chamber Music Workshop in 2003, a chamber music program for young adults.They also added residencies in Israel and Sarasota, Fla. to maintain its high level of teaching and stay connected with its students beyond the summer programs.
“The secret to our success is the size. It’s not easy keeping it below 40 students, but it would be very different with a big operation,” she said. “This way, we really get to focus on the kids and their needs. It’s like a family.”
In 2012, thanks to a gift from Kristy and James H. Clark, PMP tore down one of its original dormitories and built the Clark Arts Center with a recital hall, living, and practice spaces, enabling the Program to maintain its activities on the East End throughout the year. The Stires-Stark Alumni Recital Series was founded in 2016 to give alumni opportunities to perform at the Center for PMP’s East End audience.
In the fall, an alumni retreat invites past campers back to play chamber music and develop their community engagement skills. In 25 years, over 650 musicians have studied at PMP.
This summer, 77 students and young artist participants were on the Island.
“Our Summer gala will be exceptional, with food, music, and festivities you just can’t miss. And we’re planning an alumni reunion in August, when we hope to see as many faces from the last 25 years as we can,” Ms. Perlman said.
Availability for the 25th Anniversary Gala is limited. Call 212-877-5045 to inquire. Support the talented young musicians by taking part in the online auction from home with packages celebrating the East End and PMP: Text PMPSI2019 to 243725.