Following the uproar after a master class Friday in which Pinchas Zukerman used offensive cultural stereotypes, the violinist on Monday issued an apology through his publicity agent. Here is the statement:
"There is nothing more important to me than imparting the knowledge I've accumulated over the course of my career to future generations. In Friday's master class, I was trying to communicate something to these two incredibly talented young musicians, but the words I used were culturally insensitive. I'm writing to the students personally to apologize. I am sorry that I made anyone uncomfortable. I cannot undo that, but I offer a sincere apology. I learned something valuable from this, and I will do better in the future."
Video of master class, part of this year's virtual Starling-DeLay Symposium on Violin Studies at The Juilliard School, was to be posted for participants in the symposium, but the Symposium and Juilliard chose not to do so. Their statement: "Unfortunately, we will not be posting the video of Friday's final master class with Pinchas Zukerman, who in the course of the class used insensitive and offensive cultural stereotypes. Those remarks did not represent the values of the Symposium or The Juilliard School. We have addressed this issue directly with the students involved and with Mr. Zukerman himself, who was a guest engaged for this symposium and has offered his apologies. On behalf of the Symposium and the school, we sincerely apologize to all attendees and again extend a personal apology to the recipients of those comments."
At issue was his interaction with a pair of young violinists from New York. Click here to read a full description of the interaction. Zukerman's comments to them ranged from suggesting they use a little "soy sauce" in their playing to the statement, "In Korea they don't sing. It's not in their DNA."
The girls were American, as stated in their bios in the Symposium program book, which was available to all participants and faculty. When Zukerman assumed they were Korean during the course of the master class, one of the sisters stated they were of half-Japanese descent.
Zukerman's statements at the master class, as described here on Violinist.com, were reported in many outlets, including the New York Times, and generated hundreds of comments on social media and various websites, with people sharing their stories about culturally insensitive behavior in the classical music world. Some even referenced past incidents with Zukerman specifically.
The outpouring illustrated ongoing problems within the classical music community, where too many people of color and women continue to feel not just uncomfortable but unwelcome and even unsafe pursuing a career in classical music. This is damaging not just to those who are targeted by such behavior but also to the entire industry.
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