Annual Perlman Music Program performance returns to Southold High School

After a three-year hiatus, the Perlman Music Program’s elite classical music students will perform on the North Fork once again.

The Perlman Music Program String Orchestra and Chorus will take the stage at Southold High School Tuesday, July 25, at 7 p.m. This year, the 35-chair ensemble features students from the United States, Israel, Taiwan, Austria, Canada, Norway, South Korea, Hong Kong, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Japan and China. Lead by maestro Itzhak Perlman and chorus master Patrick Romano, they will perform works of Mozart, Bartók, Fauré and other composers.

The Shelter Island-based organization, founded by Mr. Perlman’s wife, Toby Perlman, in 1994, trains young string players of high-caliber talent who typically go on to study music in top schools and often enjoy lifelong careers in classical music. The annual Southold concert, which has been canceled the last three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has long been a highlight of the summer program.

“This is our first time back, and we’re very excited,” executive director Anne Kaplan said. “It’s really a unique opportunity for our students to play as an orchestra and sing as a chorus and in a proper hall. At camp we perform in our tent, which is great and fun, but it’s a very different experience acoustically. And it’s an opportunity to play this program for the community, for a wider audience and on the North Fork, which we love.”

Several students who have participated in the program for multiple summers, such as Vibha Janakiraman, a 17-year-old from West Chester, Pa., who will study violin performance at Juilliard in the fall, have yet to experience a Southold concert.

“I’m very, very excited,” she said. “I think so many of the students here, we’re very aware of how much we have gained from older mentors and music educators, and so for us to be able to do something at a high school, that is a way for us to share what we’re doing with the public that also ties into music education I think is very meaningful for us.”

The students who arrive at the Perlman school are often prodigies on their instruments, but many are not classically-trained vocalists. The choral aspect of the concert, Ms. Kaplan explained, stems from Ms. Perlman’s desire to curtail competition and strengthen a sense of community among the students.

“They’re not trained singers, so it immediately strips off the competition aspect,” Ms. Kaplan said. “Every day at camp, they sing — all the kids, all the counselors, the faculty, the Perlmans — everybody sings in chorus, [even] the camp nurse. So it’s a really communal thing that comes together really beautifully and sounds incredible. You wouldn’t believe that they’re not singers.”

Vibha said Mr. Romano, who will lead the chorus, is “one of the most passionate, dedicated and inspiring musicians and leaders that I’ve ever worked with. He has a way of bringing out the best, and the most artistic, music-making out of people who have never sung in their lives before. 

“From what I’ve heard from my peers, it’s something everyone looks forward to.”

In collaboration with East End Arts in Riverhead, local string instrument students who are not enrolled in the program are invited to join an open rehearsal alongside the Perlman students under the guidance of Mr. Perlman. The rehearsal, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Tickets for the concert are available for $25 through and at the door on the evening of the performance.