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A Cellist Is Chosen, And Challenged

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein.
Jamie Jung
Cellist Alisa Weilerstein.

If there's such a thing as cello mojo, Alisa Weilerstein has it. Not only did she make her Carnegie Hall debut at age 15 and perform for President Obama in 2009, last year she was also chosen by conductor Daniel Barenboim to perform the Elgar Cello Concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic. The Elgar was the signature piece of Barenboim's late wife, cellist Jacqueline du Pre. That's an honor — and a litmus test — which Barenboim has only granted one other artist: Yo-Yo Ma.

Weilerstein's artistry comes naturally. Her father, Donald, was the longtime first violinist with the fine Cleveland Quartet, and her mother, Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, is an equally well-regarded pianist. Since Alisa Weilerstein was just 6, the three have performed together around the globe as the Weilerstein Trio.

Now, the youngest Weilerstein's profile as a soloist is being kicked into high gear. She spoke to Scott Simon from the Spoleto Festival USA, where she'll be performing through June 12.

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