Conductor Zubin Mehta receives presidential decoration
Ljubljana, 5 September - President Borut Borut Pahor conferred on Thursday the Golden Order of Merit on the world-renowned Indian conductor Zubin Mehta. The ceremony came ahead of a concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Mehta, which will wrap up the 67th Ljubljana Festival.
The president's office said that the Mumbai-born conductor had been recognised for his contribution to music and the inspiring effort to connect people and nations with this form of art.
Known for conducting operas in New York, Vienna, London, Milan, Montreal and elsewhere, Mehta "used his baton to give a special touch of magic to opera arias performed by the three greatest tenors in the world."
"His artistic genius and the respectful though bold approach to music reflects in a sovereign authority on the stage and elaborate performances whose importance made many people's names being written down in history," the office added.
The 83-year-old has been "enthusiastically leading musicians and listeners through musical notation for more than six decades", it said, also pointing to Mehta's feel for social responsibility in musical education of young people.
At the ceremony, the conductor said that he was "so happy to hear that you had decided to confer this great honour on me", noting that he had first visited Ljubljana at the age of 24, when he had actually been only starting his career.
Mehta was hosted at the time by Marijan Lipovšek, the then director of the Slovenian Philharmonic, and he remembered how he had left Slovenia with "great feelings of friendship and enthusiasm from Lipovšek and the public in general."
He returned to Slovenia many times, including with the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino orchestra at the Ljubljana Festival in 2008, and with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra four times - in 2003, 2007, 2015 and this year.
Mehta has received numerous honours and awards for his achievements in music and social activism, including the Lifetime Achievement Peace and Tolerance Award of the United Nations in 1999.