An enthusiastic crowd packed The Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center on May 30 when the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute (YMWI) presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to internationally renowned concert pianist Maestro Byron Janis. Produced with the support of Yamaha Artist Services, Inc., the celebratory evening highlighted the international career and personal journey of the virtuoso pianist, world ambassador and composer who, despite multiple hand surgeries, continues to extend his mind-over-matter approach and extraordinary gift to those in need. Janis has led advocacy efforts in the field of arthritis, championing the cause of others—especially children—who suffer from the disease and face the challenges of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.
In presenting the award to Maestro Janis, Dr. Barry Bittman, neurologist and Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute CEO, said, “YMWI is proud to extend its Lifetime Achievement Award to Byron Janis. Our rationale can be summed up from three perspectives. As a musician, I recognize Byron’s immense creativity and unparalleled virtuosity as pure genius. As a physician, I’m inspired by his relentless will to persevere against what would have been career-ending challenges for others. Finally, as an individual, I’m in awe of the power of his spirit that relentlessly continues to inspire a refreshing sense of hope for those in need.”
The tribute was hosted by “Inside Edition” anchor and journalist Deborah Norville, and featured a presentation by Arthritis Foundation President and CEO Dr. John Klippel, a letter from Andre Watts, a video presentation by Emanuel Ax, a reading by a Benedictine nun from The Abbey of Regina Laudis and 2012 Academy Award documentary nominee Reverend Mother Dolores Hart, as well a letter of honor from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The program also featured performances by Yamaha Artist and pop song stylist Tony DeSare; Yamaha Artist and young jazz pianist Gerald Clayton; Vy Higginsen’s Gospel for Teens Choir of Harlem; classical pianist Lola Astanova; violinist and Juvenile Arthritis sufferer Margo Deihl; and former Harvard Trio pianist Dr. Richard Kogan. Capping the evening was a performance by Maestro Janis, who joined Yamaha’s worldwide artist roster in 2011.