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Itzhak Perlman cancels Raleigh concert over HB2

Israeli-American violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman has cancelled his Raleigh performance over HB2. One of the world’s greatest violinists, he was to play Wednesday with the NC Symphony.
Israeli-American violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman has cancelled his Raleigh performance over HB2. One of the world’s greatest violinists, he was to play Wednesday with the NC Symphony. Getty Images

Itzhak Perlman – one of the world’s greatest concert violinists – is the latest artist to cancel a North Carolina performance over the state’s controversial House Bill 2.

The 70-year-old Perlman was scheduled to play Raleigh’s Meymandi Concert Hall on Wednesday night with the N.C. Symphony. He informed the symphony and his fans on Tuesday that he would not perform.

“As my fans know, I have spent a lifetime advocating against discrimination towards those with physical disabilities and have been a vocal advocate for treating all people equally,” Perlman said in a statement. “As such, it is only after much deliberation that I have decided to cancel tomorrow’s concert in North Carolina as a stand against House Bill 2.”

Perlman’s agent said until Tuesday he had planned to play the concert and donate the proceeds to Equality North Carolina – a prominent opponent of the state law that blocks local anti-discrimination laws and requires transgender people in government facilities to use the bathroom that matches their birth certificates.

“But when he was told this morning his wish to include a statement in the program would not be accommodated (as the North Carolina Symphony is a state-sponsored organization), he had no choice but to cancel, thus the reason for the last-minute cancellation,” his agent wrote in an email Tuesday.

The symphony’s refusal to include the statement Perlman wanted in the program stems from a desire to remain non-partisan, said spokeswoman Linda Charlton.

“The North Carolina Symphony welcomes all people with our hearts and minds open, and we are honored to share our music-making with everyone,” Charlton said in a statement. “However, as a non-partisan organization, our performances are not an appropriate forum for political commentary.”

The show was a sellout, with 1,700 tickets sold, according to Charlton. Though she couldn’t quantify the loss from the cancellation, Charlton agreed that shows by artists like Perlman are important for the symphony because they attract a wider audience and make an outsized contribution to the bottom line.

“The loss will be significant,” she said.

Ticket-holders should contact the box office at 919-733-2750 or tickets@ncsymphony.org to inquire about refunds.

Perlman joins a list of artistic cancellations over HB2 that includes Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Ringo Starr, Ani DiFranco, Demi Lovato, Boston and Cirque du Soleil, among others.

David Menconi: 919-829-4759, @NCDavidMenconi

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