Many public schools around the country are struggling for lack of resources, and the schools in our city are no exception. But that hasn’t stopped a thriving music program in one of our high schools from training some talented musicians.
Back in May, I wrote about Al and my decision to donate my grandfather’s violin and his father’s viola to our local public school system. I haven’t been able to play the violin for decades as my hands have deteriorated. We hoped that the instruments would enable some deserving students to develop their skills. This past Thursday, those hopes were realized, as we got to see and hear our instruments making music once again
It was the annual Winter Concert at our local arts magnet high school, performed in the auditorium of the next-door middle school. I had never been there before, but we had been invited by the program’s director to attend in thanks for our donation.
The building is drab, the auditorium cavernous, with wooden folding seats, a mediocre sound system and an aging grand piano that snapped a string during vigorous playing by the choral director. But the program was full of challenging selections, ranging from Bartók to Sondheim. And the students largely rose to the challenge.
Most impressive was the string orchestra. Their director, who commutes from Boston, has clearly taught the students well. It gave me such pleasure to watch and listen. All the violinists sat up straight, bowed their strings with excellent form and made lovely music. Our instruments sang again.
Equally as important to me, the string orchestra director treated his students and the concert with respect. He dressed smartly in a tuxedo with a red bow tie and cummerbund for the occasion. He had engaged a wonderful professional opera singer, clad in a scarlet gown, to perform Mozart with the group. The students presented her with a bouquet. There was shared pride in all that they had accomplished together.
We left the concert, which included band, choral and orchestra performances as well, feeling really good. Against significant odds, committed teachers are helping dedicated students rise to their full potential. I’m glad that our instruments have found a good new home.
Image: Peter Lewis