Cellist Alisa Weilerstein wins 'Genius' award

Alisa Weilerstein
Cleveland Plain Dealer

By Zachary Lewis

Patrons planning to catch the Cleveland Orchestra in May now have another reason to attend: the opportunity to be in the presence of a certified genius.

On Tuesday, Sept. 20, cellist and former Clevelander Alisa Weilerstein, the soloist on four concerts at Severance Hall in mid-May, was named a 2011 MacArthur Foundation Fellow. The honor commonly known as the "genius" grant entails "no strings attached" support of $500,000 over the next five years.

In the letter notifying Weilerstein of the award, the foundation cited the 29-year-old artist's "originality, creativity, self-direction, and capacity to contribute importantly to society . . ."

For her part, Weilerstein said in a press release she reacted to the nomination with "total shock and amazement." "This is an incredible and unexpected honor and completely overwhelming," she said.

Weilerstein is currently scheduled to perform Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Cleveland Orchestra and guest conductor Lionel Bringuier four times May 10-13.