Around the Island

Perlman Virtual Gala stirs memories; Strong Island connection continues

The virtual gala aired on Friday, July 24 by the Perlman Music Program felt as much like a reunion as an important fundraiser to support PMP’s work.

At the lead-up to the 5 p.m. start, photos of last year’s celebration were interspersed with messages of appreciation from Islanders and other supporters. Seeing Shelter Island neighbors at a festive occasion, sans masks and social distancing, seemed long ago and far away.

But the warm and joyful video clips from young musicians, mostly in high school, were a reminder of what PMP does for them. From their homes in California, Hong Kong, Texas, New York and elsewhere, each introduced themselves and, frequently their pets, and spoke of what they like to do besides practice.

One likes crime shows, another running; several had cats and dogs, and a cockatiel and a rabbit took their bows. One recalled his two departed fish. It was a reminder of Toby Perlman’s philosophy underlying the program: that there are many important parts of a young person’s life that must not be neglected while they focus on music.

Actor Alec Baldwin joined Itzhak and Toby Perlman in a virtual dialogue about how the camp came to be on Shelter Island. Ms. Perlman related that a friend had seen the property for sale and they realized it would be perfect.

“I imagine you on the phone in those days, Toby,” said Mr. Baldwin, “telling Itzhak’s agent to get him bookings around the world: ‘We’re going to need to pay for all that paint!’”

Praising the work the Perlmans have done to create and sustain the camp on Shelter Island over 25 years, Mr. Baldwin said, “When you go there, you get it. It’s magical.”

A tribute to Ludwig von Beethoven had been planned for his 250th birthday this summer, and the musicians performed online with a harmony that made the listener forget they were not in one place.

Performing Beethoven’s “Scherzo di Passagio,” which was loosely translated as “Fun in Passing,” the musicians were accompanied by video clips of students passing Frisbees, playing ping pong, having fun on the beach and catching a baseball thrown by Maestro Perlman himself. His sense of fun is evident in all their performances.

They are also stunning in their quality. The Grand Finale featured PMP students and faculty singing Elgar’s “The Snow,” accompanied by Mr. Perlman on violin.

The vocal performance was as beautiful as the earlier instrumentals, and an uplifting reminder that this is a community of hundreds of minds, hearts, souls and bodies as well as musical talents.