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CLEVELAND, OHIO - 09-21-11 - The Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) announced that artist-in-residence, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, has been named a 2011 MacArthur Fellow by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The twenty-nine-year-old Ms. Weilerstein learned through a surprise phone call that she will receive $500,000 in unrestricted support over the next five years. MacArthur Fellowships come without stipulations or reporting requirements and offer Fellows unprecedented freedom and opportunity to reflect, create and explore. The unusual level of independence afforded to Fellows underscores the spirit of freedom intrinsic to creative endeavors. The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world.

"CIM would like to express its great pride in Alisa Weilerstein, recently designated as winner of the coveted MacArthur Award. Ms. Weilerstein combines the ability to find fresh and 'new' interpretations of the chestnuts of the cello repertory with her great need to find and advocate recently written works that speak to our humanity," said President Joel Smirnoff.

"Ms. Weilersteins's interest in, and travels to, new musical centers in emerging market countries demonstrates her willingness to accept the geographical change in the market for western art, which is going to be a key to its growth, survival and revivification. The future of great art music will depend on its finding relevancy for a new and young audience who can perceive it as a 'living' art, one whose body of work is constantly renewed in a way which speaks to new generations on first encounter. Kudos to the MacArthur Foundation for recognizing, as do we, Alisa Weilerstein's important capacity to help create our musical future."

Despite her young age, she is already a veteran on the classical musical scene, having performed with the nation's top orchestras, given recitals in music capitals at festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe and in 2009, she participated in a White House Music Series classical event with violinist Joshua Bell by invitation of President and Mrs. Obama. (Watch a video of that performance here.) Later that year, she toured Venezuela with the Simon Bolivar Sympohny Orchestra led by Gustavo Dudame and in 2010, she made her LA Philharmonic debut with Maestro Dudamel.

Although dedicated to the classics, Ms. Weilerstein is a tireless advocate of contemporary music, introducing audiences to new works by modern composers, and in many cases, performing alongside them. In 2007, she worked with composer Osvaldo Golijov on a complete revision of Azul, his concerto inspired by a Pablo Neruda poem.

A dedicated performer of chamber music, Ms. Weilerstein often plays with her parents, Donald and Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, as the Weilerstein Trio, which is the trio-in-residence at the New England Conservatory in Boston. She made her professional orchestral debut at the age of 13 with The Cleveland Orchestra and is a graduate of the Young Artist Program at CIM, where she studied with Richard Weiss.

Unlike many musical prodigies, she pursued a liberal arts degree in Russian History, graduating from Columbia University in 2004 - all while maintaining a busy performance schedule.

She was appointed to the CIM faculty in 2009.