Violinist-Researcher-Philanthropist Promotes the Power of Youth
Viewers of CBS Sunday Morning now know what concertgoers and many at the National MS Society have known for years: Jourdan Urbach is an extraordinarily gifted, and extraordinarily generous, young man.
The teen violin prodigy and budding medical researcher astounded the audience with a performance at the Society's 2008 National Conference in Chicago in early November. He then set down his violin and delivered remarks that were equally impassioned, urging educators and nonprofit leaders to do more to engage youth.
Weeks later, Jourdan gave his second Carnegie Hall benefit. The show — which included a gorgeous duet with country-western star Clay Walker — was featured in the CBS broadcast. Read more about the CBS profile or download the video (.wmv).
Jourdan, of Roslyn, N.Y., began playing violin at age 3, and has often been compared to a young Paganini. At age 7 he founded Children Helping Children, which organizes benefit concerts for pediatric wards and organizes in-hospital peformances, after touring a pediatric neurosurgery clinic for a school project. He developed a special interest in MS in 2003, when a cousin was diagnosed.
Recently Jourdan took a moment from his frenetic schedule to catch us up on some other recent accomplishments:
- Four perfect 800 SAT II scores
- Studying for five AP exams
- Received the Robert P. Sheppard Leadership Award for 2008 from Claes Nobel, founder of the National Society of High School Scholars, and performed before the U.S. Senate at the awards ceremony
- Performed in L.A. at the Associated Television International Hero Awards, and received the show's Young Hero Award
- Was one of six winners (out of 3,468 nominees) of the Better Hour National Scholarship Competition for Philanthropic Leadership and Public Service for his work in music and medicine. The prize honors the legacy of abolitionist William Wilberforce.
Jourdan has conducted MS research with Harvard's David A. Hafler, MD and at Stony Brook University Medical Center. He presented his first scientific paper, "The Role of Laminin in Myelination," at the Society's 2005 National Conference.
On his contribution to FaceofMS, Jourdan states, "My involvement with the Society is fueled in part by my personal connection with MS through my cousin, Marjorie, and also because I've met and become close with so many people at the Society that I feel a part of them, and I am just as driven to find a cure."
See Jourdan's video podcast, "The Future of Telemedicine," which won first place in NASA's National 21st Century Podcast Competition, and watch Jourdan's visit to the Motel Williams Show in March 2008 (.wmv).
In 2009 Jourdan will perform as soloist with the Grand Rapids Symphony; as classical music’s "Rising Star” at the Ventura Music Festival in California, under the direction of Nevi Mehta; in Memphis as the prestigious “2009 Artist Ascending” winner; in Buenos Aires, as soloist with the Buenos Aires Symphony at the famous Colon Theater; and at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, headlining a classical and electric violin extravaganza with Mark Wood and members of The Trans Siberian Orchestra. He will also perform at the New York City Chapter’s Annual Meeting Dinner in January.