On May 7, 2009, over 250 friends and supporters of Education Through Music gathered at ETM’s Eighth Annual Children’s Benefit Gala at The Waldorf=Astoria’s Starlight Roof in Manhattan. The evening honored Grammy-winning violinist and ETM Advisory Committee member Joshua Bell for his longtime support of ETM and music education. Joshua, who received a special introduction from New York 1’s Budd Mishkin, performed two solo pieces for Gala guests on his world-famous 1713 Gibson ex Huberman Stradivarius and spoke briefly about his commitment to music education. The evening benefited ETM’s partner schools and was chaired by Karen Karlsrud.
After a cocktail reception in the Palm Room, ETM Chairman of the Board Michael Schaefer began the evening's program by welcoming everyone and introducing Mr. Mishkin, who spoke about Joshua's longtime work with ETM. Gala Chair Karen Karlsrud and ETM Executive Director Katherine Damkohler then spoke of their respective experiences with Joshua and presented him with the Children's Benefit Award. Gala guests were then treated to a performance of “Yankee Doodle Boy,” by violin and cello students from ETM’s New York City partner schools, accompanied by Joshua. For the 26 ETM students from St. Clare, St. Ann, Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary, PS 68 and PS 69, performing with Joshua was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Honors Chorus from PS 76 also performed selections from the musical “The Castaways.” The musical revue was capped with two exquisite performances by the evening’s honoree, who played a Tchaikovsky violin piece and variations on “Yankee Doodle,” which he originally played for President Obama in February. After dinner, auctioneer Bryan Mergen led the live auction, with guests bidding on such one-of-a-kind items as a golf outing with Bell, a vacation at a private ranch in Napa Valley, dinner at Craft with Miss USA 2009, and dinner at famous East Harlem restaurant Rao's. Guests then danced the night away to the sounds of the David Finck Quintet, as well as beautiful singing by ETM TA Shanna Lesniak.
Bell, who received his first violin at age four, came to national attention at 14 in his orchestral debut with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra. In between CD recordings and performances at top international venues, Joshua's number one priority is introducing, sharing and encouraging children to appreciate classical music. He has been involved with ETM since 2003 and has served as an ETM Advisory Committee Member since 2004.
ETM gratefully acknowledges Joshua Bell; Bryan Mergen; the Gala Benefit Committee; Kristen Dalton, for attending the event and participating in the auction; ETM's Board of Directors and staff; the students, teaching artists and principals from P.S. 76, St. Clare School, St. Ann School, Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary School, P.S. 68, and P.S. 69; Shanna Lesniak and Lars Potteiger; all of our sponsors and donors; the 12 volunteers from Credit Suisse who generously donated their time; and all of the contributors and attendees who made this event possible.
Click HERE to see photos from the Gala!
Click HERE to read a congratulatory letter from Mayor Bloomberg!