Pinchas Zukerman Apologizes for Using ‘Culturally Insensitive’ Comments In Violin Masterclass

Pinchas Zukerman

Photo Credit: America-Israel Cultural Foundation

Violinist Pinchas Zukerman has apologized for invoking stereotypes about Asians during a class.

Roughly 100 students and teachers attended the virtual symposium hosted by the Juilliard School. Attendees say the violinist invoked racist stereotypes in his comments, leading Juilliard not to share a video of the class with participants.

“At one point, Zukerman told a pair of students of Asian decent that their playing was too perfect and that they need to add soy sauce,” two participants who attended the class confirmed to The New York Times. While trying to encourage the students to play lyrically, he said he “understood that people in Korea and Japan do not sing.”

Juilliard has tried to distance itself from the virtual symposium, describing Pinchas Zukerman as a guest instructor.

The school also responded to complaints about the comments, saying his “insensitive and offensive cultural stereotypes” did not represent the school’s values. Zukerman issued a public apology on Monday for what he says were ‘culturally insensitive’ comments.

“In Friday’s master class, I was trying to communicate something to these two incredibly talented young musicians, but the words I used were culturally insensitive,” the violinist says in a statement. “I’m writing to the students personally to apologize. I am sorry that I made anyone uncomfortable. I cannot undo that, but I offer a sincere apology. I learned something valuable from this, and I will do better in the future.”

Pinchas Zukerman is a celebrated violinist and conductor whose career spans decades. His guest instructor spot was the biggest name at the Juilliard event. The Starling-DeLay Violin Symposium is focused on violin teaching and focuses on young musicians.

“After the sisters played a duet, Zukerman told them they should try bringing more of a singing quality to their playing,” participants of the class confirmed to The New York Times. Zukerman then told the sisters he knew Koreans did not sing. One of the sisters interrupted to say they were not Korean, but of Japanese descent. Zukerman replied by saying that people in Japan did not sing either.

The remarks prompted an outcry among the Asian American community. Many musicians shared their stories on social media of being told their playing lacked emotion or was too technical.

Some also compared the remarks to the rise in anti-Asian sentiment in the United States over the last year. The rise of the coronavirus has triggered many attacks on Asian communities in cities across the United States.

17 Responses

  1. Toughen up fellas

    Imagine being such a mental wimp that you get upset about this

    • Shin Ko Nagaya

      Imagine not understanding how someone else may feel about being minimized because of the race they were born. You’re a problem.

      • Charlie Chance

        Awww, so sensei sensitive.

        Tiger mom no have soy sauce.

        Wax on, wax off.

        • SKN

          Not sensitive at all. I don’t give a shit. However; you are ignorant and further prove my point with your reply. Nice going jackass.

      • Tu Soon?

        Grow a pair, snowflake. There are bigger problems in the world than your damn feelings.

        • SKN

          Bigger problems? yes, there are, and there always will be, but that excuse isn’t a reason to ignore the issue.

          Grow a paid, snowflake? Really? You’re a knucklehead looking for attention. Talk about snowflake. It’s you.

      • Real talk

        Guess what if someone said some shit about pizza and my art I’d say you’re a fucking moron and get on with my day. Not cry about it and write articles and complain for years. Everyone needs to go through a divorce, learn real pain and get over themselves.

          • Edith

            Yes he is. Just ignore him. He does this all over this website to rile people up and bait them into any sort of conversation. No matter how much that makes sense, he’ll post extreme bs that diverts or ignores the topic. He’s obviously a very sad, little, lonely person. I pity him.

  2. Tu Soon?

    Anyone who has been around the classical violin world knows this is true. Asians practice like maniacs but a significant percentage sound like robots.

    My apologies to Conrad Tao. You are a friggin monster, dude.

    • SKN

      Regardless of what stereotypes may be in place, generalizing as you have done is mindless idiocy. This kind of racist talk is not necessary and inexcusable.

      • Tu Soon?

        Not stereotypes—truth. Sorry that hurts your damn feelings.

        Grow a dang pair and stfu.

        • SKN

          If there is just one person who doesn’t fit your “truth” then it is a stereotype. You racist fuckers are all the same, trying to justify and rationalize your ugliness. I got your pair right here. Suck em, jerk.

          • Tu Soon?

            So, would you be upset if I called you a yellow-bellied, shovel-faced gook?

            Just wondering.

        • Paul

          How many screen names do you post your idiot remarks under? By the tone and consistent use of certain words or phrases, it appears you have no life. Way to spend your valuable time. You need mental help.