If you thought a fiddler on a roof was in a precarious position, imagine what happens when a middle-aged professor with a bad back takes up the cello. Ari Goldman hasn't played in twenty-five years, but he's decided to give the cello one last chance. First he secures a seat in his eleven-year-old son's youth orchestra, and then he's ready for the big time: the Late Starters Orchestra of New York City - a bona fide amateur string orchestra for beginning or recently returning adult players.
We accompany Goldman to LSO rehearsals (their motto is "If you think you can play, you can") and sit in on his son's Suzuki lessons (where we find out that children do indeed learn differently from adults). And we wonder whether Goldman will be good enough to perform at his next birthday party. Coming to the rescue is the ghost of Goldman's very first cello teacher, Mr. J, who continues to inspire and guide him - about music and more - through this enchanting midlife journey.
The Late Starters Orchestra reminds us that with a band of friends beside us, anything is possible.
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"More than just a memoir about music and all that it offers; it is also a warm and moving testament to the opportunities of aging." - Booklist
"The Late Starters Orchestra is a joy to read - moving, funny, and deeply true in its depiction of those aspirations we put aside until, one day, we realize it's now or never. Ari Goldman's quest to master the cello is an inspiration for dreamers everywhere." - Letty Cottin Pogrebin, author of How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who's Sick
"We're all living longer. What should we do with the time? Ari Goldman has a solution. The Late Starters Orchestra is warm, soulful, sometimes rueful, sometimes passionate - just like his beloved cello." - Jonathan Weiner, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Beak of the Finch
"A lovely, moving story of personal rediscovery disguised as a book about cello-playing.'" - David Hajdu, music critic for The New Republic
"I've long believed that there is a musician hiding in each one of us. Ari Goldman's new book, The Late Starters Orchestra, gives us back our natural right to make music...It's an inspiration!" - Julia Wolfe, co-founder of Bang on a Can
"A poignant and loving meditation on teachers and students, fathers and sons, and the great resilience and capacity of the human brain."- Joshua Henkin, author of The World Without You
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Ari L. Goldman is a professor of journalism at Columbia University and the author of three books, including the bestselling The Search for God at Harvard. Goldman arrived at Columbia in 1993, after spending twenty years at the New York Times, most of them as a religion writer. His articles and columns have also appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Daily News, the Jerusalem Post, and the Columbia Journalism Review. He is the media columnist for the New York Jewish Week.
Born in Hartford, Connecticut, and educated at Yeshiva University, Columbia, and Harvard, Goldman's books include Being Jewish: The Spiritual and Cultural Practice of Judaism Today and a memoir, Living a Year of Kaddish. He has been a visiting Fulbright professor in Israel, a Skirball Fellow at Oxford University in England, and a scholar-in-residence at Stern College, the women's college of his alma mater, Yeshiva University. He serves on the boards of several organizations, including the Jewish Book Council.
As the director of the Scripps Howard Program in Religion, Journalism, and Spiritual Life at Columbia, he teaches the popular "Covering Religion" seminar that in recent years has taken students on study tours of Israel, Jordan, Russia, Ukraine, India, Ireland, and Italy. He is also a faculty member of a Holocaust education program called Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.
His adventures as an amateur cellist--he plays with the New York Late Starters String Orchestra--is the subject of his newest book, The Late Starters Orchestra. He and his wife, Shira Dicker, are the proud parents of three children and live in New York City.
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