"The top violinists of the next 10 or 20 years will be Asian," says famed violinist Isaac Stern, "from Japan, Korea and slowly, more and more, from China." Stern's pioneering musical trip to China was the subject of an Oscar-winning 1980 documentary, "From Mao to Mozart." Stern likens the phenomenon to that of the Jewish violinists in mid-century such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Miriam Fried and Shlomo Mintz, who came to the U.S from Israel.

"It's very much the same," said Stern, who was born in Russia and brought to the United States when he was a year old. "It's a passport out of a limited area of national origin, a way to touch other people and bridge language limitations."Stern, 67, maintains a busy schedule of recitals, chamber music and performances with orchestra. As for a retirement, he says he "has it in mind."