Alban's Blog

Missing Flights…

Alban at Opus 118 East Harlem Music SchoolThat hasn’t happened to me in several years: I missed my flight. In my calendar which I am always synchronizing between the cellphone and my laptop it said that I had to catch a flight at 5:52 pm leaving Newark to Spokane via Seattle. Minutes before I had to leave the apartment at 4 pm, I checked my e-mail and found a reminder from Orbitz that my flight was leaving at 5 pm on-time from JFK. I raced with the car which was waiting in front of the building to JFK just to get completely stuck in traffic and arrive 10 minutes after the departure of the flight.

Alban plays for Opus 118
How that can happen? No idea, maybe it helps to accept that I am a complete airhead. While this is very annoying it gives me a free night in New York in which I can write another little blog about my experience at Opus 118, this music school in East Harlem. Roberta Guaspari, the founder, had prepared a little concert/open dress-rehearsal for me and the little audience consisting of parents, teachers and sponsors. I was really impressed by the energy and love with which these young people played the most difficult in the world. Their posture was perfect, and most impressive their bowhands – the way they were holding the bow was just right. For somebody who doesn’t know about string instruments, this doesn’t sound like anything, but let me tell you: how to hold the bow is the most important step in the life of a string players, and even many college students don’t do it as well as these kids.

Also the intonation was impeccable – altogether a wonderful little concert. Afterwards it was my turn which I regretted since I would have preferred listening bit more to the kids. I had chosen some Bach, Ligeti and Rostropovich (my usual encores I always like to play for these school concerts) and they were as good listeners as they were players. The best came after the little question and answer session: eight of the kids took their violins back out and started to play just for fun, gathering around me while Dorothea, the mother of my homepage man Alexej, took photos.

Alban at Opus 118 East Harlem Music School
At dinner I had a chance to talk to Roberta – what a woman! Since 28 years she is teaching the violin at public schools, touching the lives of many children who otherwise wouldn’t ever have experienced the beauty of classical music. And she it tough with them – playing the violin is no joke, it demands lots of discipline, but the great thing is, the more you demand, the more the children respond. They feel that she is in it with her heart, and they seem to adore her completely. If I compare my life with hers, I must say, she wins, because she really changes the lives of so many youngsters, while people like me are absolutely replacable by any other musician. Yes, that might sound harsh, but it’s true. And I am not exaggerating or depressed about it, it just gives me more incentive to do more of this school projects. Thanks, Roberta and Opus 118 kids!

My friend and pianist just arrived at Ollies to pick me up, since I couldn’t get a hold of my host of the last 2 weeks, Annaliese, so until now I was sitting at this Chinese restaurant, hoping for a warm bed, since I am really, really tired…


  • Linda Collins

    Loved your description of the “rehearsal-concert” at Opus 118 and particularly the moment when, after you played and had finished the question period, the children spontaneously gathered together to play again. Wonderful, joyful making of music! As I said to you afterwards, I admired your choice of things to play for them (and me): Bach, Ligeti and Rostropovich,. Excellent little concert.
    Sorry not to have had a chance to talk with you at dinner but another time, perhaps.

  • Alban

    Dear Linda, yes, I hope there will be more time next time we meet. Thanks for being so enthusiastic about the children, their really deserve all your help! Keep on the wonderful work, pleasure to have met you.


  • Jennie

    It was so wonderful to see the students spontaneously perform after concert and during the photo op time all on their own and without direction! They were truly inspired.


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