Musicians with disabilities on the concert stage

Posted on: December 3, 2014

“At a New York Festival of Song concert in November, the organization’s artistic director and co-founder, pianist Steven Blier, zoomed onto the stage in his battery-operated wheelchair,” writes Corinne Ramey in Monday’s (12/1) Wall Street Journal. “Blier, who has a degenerative muscular disease called facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy, is one of three New York-based classical musicians with coming concerts who have navigated substantial careers despite significant health challenges…. Violinist Itzhak Perlman … has dealt with these issues for most of his life. He contracted polio at age 4…. Perlman shifted from despising what he refers to as the ‘Crippled Violinist Plays Concerto’ headlines to advocating for people with disabilities of all kinds…. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein, 32, who solos with the New York Philharmonic this week, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age 9. She began playing professionally at 14 but made a conscious decision not to tell her manager about her condition. ‘I didn’t want them to think there was anything I couldn’t do,’ she said…. Those with physical disabilities are bound to meticulous logistical planners of everything from accessible concert halls to transportation to bathrooms.” Also interviewed for the article are percussionist Evelyn Glennie, who is profoundly deaf, and mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin, who is blind.

Posted December 3, 2014