Cellist Alisa Weilerstein talks
music, motherhood, and the key
to blood glucose control
By Tracey Neithercott
Alisa Weilerstein’s ;rst concert involved a cereal-box cello and a nasty case of chicken pox. Her grandmother had fashioned an entire orchestra of instruments from cardboard
boxes in an attempt to entertain the sick 2-year-old and
distract her from the incessant itch. She hadn’t known
that the simple act would lead her granddaughter to
a career in music. Then again, she hadn’t known the
toddler was a veritable virtuoso.
By age 4, Weilerstein had graduated to an actual
cello and gave her ;rst public performance. From
there, her career didn’t so much blossom as it did
explode: She debuted with the Cleveland Orchestra
at age 13, played Carnegie Hall at 15, performed at
the White House at 27, and at 29 was awarded the
MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” fellowship.
There’s another milestone that sticks out
in her mind: In 1991, at age 9, Weilerstein
was diagnosed with type; 1 diabetes.
56 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017