The closing concert of the 2007-08 Union College Chamber Concert Series last Sunday began on a special note: the College presented Daniel Berkenblit, series director, with the Founders Medal for his efforts in bringing “an extraordinary cultural institution” to the region.
Thanking him for his “boundless passion, sincere generosity and keen attention to detail,” President Stephen C. Ainlay praised Berkenblit for making Memorial Chapel a regular stop for the world’s most renowned performers and enriching audiences for nearly four decades.
Over the last 36 years, Berkenblit has organized some 470 concerts as part of the Union College Chamber Music Series.
Ainlay presented the medal for Berkenblit to wear on a ribbon around his neck. Joining the two men on stage were members of the Emerson String Quartet, longtime Union friends, who performed an all-Brahms program later that afternoon.
“Throughout it all, you have modestly stayed in the wings while audiences cheer the artists,” Ainlay told Berkenblit. “Today, it is our turn to acknowledge you, the artist, for bringing this wonderful music into our lives.”
Berkenblit received a standing ovation from the sold-out audience and an impromptu round of “Happy Birthday.” He celebrated his 78th birthday the next day.
In addition to the Emerson String Quartet, Berkenblit he has brought to Memorial Chapel such renowned artists as Musicians from Marlboro, Boston Camerata, Emmanuel Ax, Lang Lang, James Galway and Wu Han.
A native of Brooklyn, he holds a medical degree from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. He served a residency in pathology at Brooklyn Methodist Hospital before working at several other hospitals and laboratories. He spent most of his career at St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy, from 1967 until his retirement in 2001.
His early musical training was on the piano, and he would go on to play the oboe in high school and in college. He became serious about chamber music – and perhaps about promoting it – during the summers of 1953 and 1954, when he traveled to Marlboro Music Festival from his summer job as a bus boy at the nearby Lake Spofford Hotel.
He and his wife, Phillipine, live in Schenectady and Stratton, Vt.
The Founders Medal was created in 1968 to honor a person who embodies the vision of the College’s founders and who has made a distinctive contribution to the welfare of the College.Read More