Violin virtuoso Isaac Stern was the center of attention twice Saturday night--first in a performance at the Orange County Performing Arts Center and later at a reception sponsored by the Orange County chapter of the American Jewish Committee.
More than 400 people gathered on a terrace at the Westin South Coast Plaza as Stern was presented with the group's award for international cultural diplomacy--an artful, framed document that looked more like a beautiful painting than a certificate.
As guests murmured praise of the performance between bites of tasty pastries and sips of champagne, AJC chapter president Michael Lapin welcomed the world-renowned musician and then made way for Lewis Janowsky, event co-chairman, who presented Stern with the certificate.
Calling Stern "the consummate cultural diplomat," Janowsky cited the master musician's travels in China and his "continuing commitment to strengthening the ties between Israel and America."
Stern returned the compliments by giving the fledgling Orange County Performing Arts Center a rave review--"an extraordinary center! It's beautiful and it works."
Stern went on to thank the AJC for granting him the honor and urged members of the Jewish community to continue supporting the Center, saying such involvement in the arts reflects the "Jewish commitment to thought and compassion in a world that sees little of it. Mostly, it is for the children."