Itzhak Perlman, CSO perform to end polio

March 8, 2011 8:11:08 AM PST
Virtuoso Itzak Perlman performed Monday night with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the ''Concert to End Polio.''

Perlman survived polio as a child. The concert will benefit Rotary International, a nonprofit that hopes to raise $200 million to rid the world of the disabling childhood disease. They amount would go toward a $355 million match challenge from the Gates Foundation. The $555 million would go toward funding the eradication of polio in developing countries.

The violinist contracted the disease at the age of four.

"If you've got the stuff, use it. We've got the vaccine. Let's use it. Let's make it something of the past, not in the future," said Perlman.

He and the CSO members are led by conductor James DePreist, who is also a polio survivor.

The polio virus is still found in developing countries such as Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan. Fewer than 1,000 cases were reported in 2010, compared with 350,000 cases in 1988.

"Polio can spread just instantaneously. It can be carried by the human body and so you come in contact with someone that has not been immunized, and you can actually end up catching polio," John Germ, Rotary International, said.

"One case is one case too many. We have to think of supporting Rotary because when you support Rotary you support eradicating polio," DePreist said.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative has the technical tools to end polio and the means to reach all children. Experts say if left untreated, polio could rebound to 10 million cases in the next 40 years.

The Concert to End Polio will take place at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Avenue. The $150 tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 312-294-3000.