After my arrival in NYC on Jan 23 I immediately called my friend and Webmaster Alexej to talk about problems I am having with the Website software. I know Alexej through his father Arnold Steinhardt, the primarius from the Guarneri-Quartet. We played about 10 years ago the Tchaikovsky-Pianotrio somewhere in New York. When I met him again a year after this concert in a bus going from Newark into the city, he mentioned that his son was a webdesigner. As I was in need of a new webpage I didn’t hesitate to contact Alexej immediately, and the rest is history.
Alexej told me to get in touch with his mother who had the software I needed to solve my problems. Calling Dorothea von Haeften reminded me of the wonderful project she is involved in: Opus 118. I had completely forgotten that I was on the advisory board of this non-profit organization supporting this Music School in East Harlem. I don’t know if you have seen the movie “Music to the Hearts” (or something like that) with Meryl Streep – it was inspired and is about this violin teacher Roberta Guspari who single-handedly created a very powerful music program at a school in East Harlem. The movie was very touching, because it deals with the power which lies in music, how it can change the lives and the attitude of young people, how it can make them not only more social but also more intelligent and efficient.
First I asked Dorothea if I might bring her some bagels from my favourite bagel place “Absolute Bagels” on Broadway (between 107th and 108th), mentioned the software I needed and then offered my services for Opus 118. A day later I got a “date” to play for some of the kids who in exchange would also play for me with a nice little question&answer session afterwards. This will happen next Wednesday at 5pm, and I am so excited because I will meet this lady who had enough stamina to fight for a program which changed so many lives already. Until now I only know the project only from the movies and from the internet, but to be there where it all started, hear the results and talk to kids whose life has been touched by music is more fulfilling than most other musical encounters. I will definitely report how this afternoon went, probably from Spokane, where I have to play another Elgar Concerto this weekend. Oh God, but now I have to learn the Honegger Concerto which is coming up in 11 days… The clock is clicking….