Cellist Alisa Weilerstein was today named a 2011 MacArthur Foundation Fellow. The prestigious award carries a prize of $500,000 of “no strings attached” support over the next five years and has been dubbed the “Genius Award”.
In a letter advising her of the honor, the MacArthur Foundation outlined that the fellowships are given in recognition of the recipient’s “originality, creativity, self-direction, and capacity to contribute importantly to society through your work.”
New York-based Ms. Weilerstein, 29, was performing in Jerusalem when she received the news about being made a MacArthur Fellow: “This is an incredible and unexpected honor and completely overwhelming. My first response was an expression of total shock and amazement and I still cannot believe it.”
Ms. Weilerstein has attracted widespread attention worldwide for playing that combines a natural virtuosic command and technical precision with impassioned musicianship. She has appeared with all of the major orchestras throughout the United States and Europe and last year she became an exclusive recording artist for Decca Classics, the first cellist to be signed by the prestigious label in over 30 years.