In a cluttered room in an abandoned coat factory in lower Manhattan, a group of musicians comes together each week to make music. Some are old, some are young, all have come late to music or come back to it after a long absence. This is the Late Starters Orchestra--the bona fide amateur string orchestra where Ari Goldman pursues his lifelong dream of playing the cello.
Goldman hadn’t seriously picked up his cello in twenty-five years, but the Late Starters (its motto, If you think you can play, you can) seemed just the right orchestra for this music lover whose busy life had always gotten in the way of its pursuit.
In The Late Starters Orchestra, Goldman takes us along to LSO rehearsals and lets us sit in on his son’s Suzuki lessons, where we find out that children do indeed learn differently from adults. He explores history’s greatest cellists and also attempts to understand what motivates his fellow late starters, amateurs all, whose quest is for joy, not greatness. And when Goldman commits to playing at his upcoming birthday party we wonder with him whether he’ll be good enough to perform in public. To the rescue comes the ghost of Goldman’s first cello teacher, the wise and eccentric Mr. J, who continues to inspire and guide him--about music and more--through this well-tuned journey.
With enchanting illustrations by Eric Hanson, The Late Starters Orchestra is about teachers and students, fathers and sons, courage and creativity, individual perseverance and the power of community. And Ari Goldman has a message for anyone who has ever had a dream deferred: it’s never too late to find happiness on one’s own terms.
about Ari L. Goldman
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.