A young Roslyn violinist whose charity concerts have raised about $5 million over the years for pediatric medical research was presented Tuesday with a Jefferson Award for public service.
"This was an unbelievable event," Jourdan Urbach, 20, said after accepting the award at a ceremony at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan. "It was amazing. Everyone in that room was working on positive change for our country."
The Jefferson Award was founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Sen. Robert Taft Jr. and Sam Beard, former aide to Robert F. Kennedy, as the "Nobel Prize for public service," according to the award officials.
Urbach was one of four young people getting awards as "Globechangers," which go to those 25 and younger. The others in that category were McLean, Va., teenage sisters Rachel and Kelsi Okun, who raise money for veterans, and Charles Orgbon, 16, of Hoschton, Ga., an environmental activist.
"The guest list alone was impressive," Urbach said. "It was such an impressive program."
Urbach, a graduate of Roslyn High School, had planned to become a neurologist or a neuroscientist but developed an avid interest in musical scoring while attending Yale University, where he will graduate in the spring, a year early, with a degree in film scoring.
He has been working on an upcoming PBS film about multiple sclerosis and is unsure what other work he might do. "I'll take what I can get," he said.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society was among the groups that benefited from Urbach's fundraising. Pamela J. Mastrota, president of the group's Long Island Chapter, said in an email that Urbach is "an inspiration to us all . . . we congratulate Jourdan for receiving such an extraordinary award . . . Jourdan is just that, extraordinary. He has headlined concerts at venues such as Carnegie Hall that has raised critical funds to support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and its mission."
Urbach said he took up violin when he was 3, won his first competition at age 5 and began staging benefits at 7 after visiting a pediatric ward for a school paper on neurosurgeons.
"I try to guilt as many people as possible into doing concerts with me," he said. "I sometimes get entire symphonies."